Mainland courts will conduct annual internal disciplinary inspections this month as part of an effort to wipe out corruption in the judiciary, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The conduct of court employees at all levels, from the People's Supreme Court to local courts, would be examined, said Li Yucheng, a Supreme Court cadre in charge of disciplinary affairs.
Courts across the country have been ordered to investigate whether any employees have violated regulations on conduct.
Higher courts were also told to arrange inspections of intermediate courts under their supervisions, Mr Li said.
To ensure that the internal inspections are conducted properly, the Supreme Court has also established five task forces to randomly examine the higher courts' findings.
Court employees held responsible for judicial blunders face penalties ranging from party disciplinary action for minor offences to criminal proceedings in serious cases.
The mainland judiciary is widely regarded as weak and substandard, especially at the local court level.
Corruption and malpractice are frequently reported by mainland media.
In recent years hundreds of legislators attending the annual meeting of the National People's Congress have voted against the Supreme Court's annual work report to voice their anger at these problems.
Supreme Court president Xiao Yang has promised to overhaul the judicial sector.
The annual internal disciplinary inspections have been conducted since 1998 as part of efforts to crack down on malpractices in mainland courts. More than 6,700 court employees have been punished since 1998.
This year's inspection drive comes after the Supreme Court's release of four documents outlining punishments for court staff and judges found to have violated disciplinary regulations.
The documents list more than 30 offences which could lead to punishment, most of them related to corruption.
In one of the most common scenarios, courts refuse to handle a case, or deliberately delay proceedings, after receiving a bribe.
Judges and court staff who fail to excuse themselves from cases in which they have a conflict of interest will face disciplinary action.
Judges were also told to refuse favours such as meals from people involved in cases they are handling.
Under the regulations, court employees face the sack if they divulge information related to court proceedings to the parties involved.