APPEALS against police decisions to restrict public meetings and processions may be heard in court. The Public Order (Amendment) Bill proposes allowing organisers of public gatherings to appeal to the Governor against prohibitions and any conditions imposed. Legislators have said it was improper for the Governor to rule on the appeals, as he would probably pass them back to the Commissioner of Police, as he had done in the past. The Security Branch said it was aware of members' concerns and promised to consider other options. It is understood that one possibility was for the appeals to be taken to court. The disadvantages of setting up an independent appeal body were that it might not be able to rule on urgently-organised meetings and it would create another layer of bureaucracy. The Government's decision is expected to be revealed to legislators at a meeting on Friday. The bill, which is being scrutinised by legislators, seeks to replace the licensing system for public rallies with a seven-day notification rule. It also raises the limit on the number of people allowed to take part in public protests and processions without notification from 30 to 50 and from 20 to 30 respectively. The Liberal Party has not yet decided whether to support the amendments, while the United Democrats say the changes do not go far enough. The Liberal Party's security spokesman, Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, said their stand on the bill had not been discussed, although members backed the principle of relaxing the rules on public processions and meetings. The party's position is pivotal to whether the bill can be passed, because pro-China legislators are likely to oppose it. Both Mrs Chow and the United Democrats' James To Kun-sun welcomed the idea of having a court hearing the appeals. They said the judicial system was at least seen to be a more independent channel. China has said the proposed changes would undermine the power of the administration to maintain public order and were in breach of the Joint Declaration which states all Hong Kong laws should remain unchanged. The vice-chairman of the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung, said he had strong reservations about the amendments. He noted that the police did not strictly follow the rules governing the licensing system and, therefore, there was no need to further relax them.