On July 1st the National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed a decision granting the Supreme People’s Procuratorate power to initiate public interest litigation at designated testing areas (全国人民代表大会常务委员会关于授予最高人民检察院在部分地区开展公益诉讼试点工作的决定). The Supreme People’s Procuratorate then released the Pilot Plan for Public Interest Litigation Brought by Procuratorial Departments (检察机关提起公益诉讼试点方案) as follow-up to the decision on July 2nd. According to the plan, procuratorial departments now officially have the power to initiate public interest litigation.
In October 2014, the procuratorial department of Jinsha county in Guizhou province sued the local environmental protection bureau for ” being negligent in punishing businesses for failing to pay the fee for the excessive discharge of pollutants”, which marked the first time a procuratorial department asserted the role in initiating public interest litigation against a government agency. The NPC Standing Committee’s decision came half a year after the case, and according to Legal Daily, the decision officially upgraded public interest litigation to the “national team”. According to Zheng Xinjian, a department chief of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, “giving procuratorial departments the right to bring public interest cases is an effective way to solve the problem of lack of plaintiffs in such cases”. Some experts also suggested that procuratorial departments would be more efficient in bringing public interest cases against administrative departments than NGOs or individuals since they have power that’s equivalent to state organs.