BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chief justice Xiao Yang announced on Friday what he said was a major reform in the process used by Chinese courts to rule on high-profile or controversial cases in abid to make rulings more fair.
The reform involves judicial committees, the highest decision-making bodies in the Chinese court system. These committees discuss and issue rulings on major or difficult cases.
But the decisions of these committees, which are comprised mainly of presidents of law courts or tribunals, are made in closed sessions, with no direct contact with either the plaintiffs or defendants.
From now on, members of judicial committees will join the bench to hear or try cases themselves, said Xiao at a national conference on reform of China's judicial system.
Xiao, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said the move would help the committee members "better pinpoint the focus and form an overall picture of the cases" and reduce the chance of biased rulings.
The SPC's judicial committees would be divided into two groups -- one for criminal cases, the other for civil and administrative cases -- to improve efficiency and accuracy, Xiao added.
As part of the reforms, judicial committees will use secret ballots to reach agreements on rulings. They will also enroll more experienced judges, he said.
At Friday's conference, Xiao also specified other tasks that Chinese courts faced in building an independent and fair judicial system.
"We should stick to the constitutional principle that any administrative organs, social groups or individuals have no right to interfere with fair rulings," he said.