Citizens should have right to sue utilities: lawmaker

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People should be given the right to sue public utilities without having to cut through red tape and burecracy first, a National Assembly representative has said.


Ho Van Nam from the southern province of Dong Nai made the statement as the National Assembly discussed the draft Administrative Procedural Law on Friday.


The Justice Committee had made the same proposal Thursday.


However, to guarantee the right, the administrative courts that take up the lawsuits need to be located outside the administrative areas they pertain to, said Dong Nai represetnative Truong Van Vo.


They need to be organized into regional courts so that judges have more independence from other local authorities, he said.


Assemblyman Hoang Van Loi from the northern province of Bac Giang said that although administrative courts don't depend on local authorities in terms of personnel appointment and budget, judges can be influenced by the fact that the chiefs of localities are also in charge of localities' Party committees to which they belong.


Need a 'revolution'


Vo was also concerned that agencies often postpone or ignore court verdicts. He suggested the new law should specify ways to enforce verdicts in the current absence of jurisdiction for administrative lawsuits.


Representative Pham Quoc Anh from Dong Nai said those who refuse to enforce verdicts should be fired or face administrative punishment, stressing that without "a drastic revolution," the new law won't change anything.


Representative Bui Van Duoi from the northern province of Hoa Binh said only when the new law successfully deals with current shortcomings, will people place more trust in administrative courts.


He said that since an ordinance of procedures in administrative lawsuits took effect in 1996, courts at district level handled less than one case a year, while provincial courts tackled eight in the 10 years from 1996 to 2006.


Between 2006 and 2009 district courts dealt with one case a year while provincial courts have handled on three per year, Duoi said.

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