Date of text
Court name
People's Court of Jianchuan County
Seat of court
Yunnan Province
Reference number
Guiding Case No. 137
Administrative, Injunctive Relief, Jurisdiction, Land Use, Forests, Permits

Case Brief

In January 2013, Wang * Quan (Wang *), a resident of Jianchuan County, was commissioned by Yuxin Company (Yuxin) to excavate for a road in a state-owned forest zone. His action was discovered and stopped by forest rangers of the Hongqi Forestry Bureau of Jianchuan County, which then passed the case to the Forest Public Security Bureau of Jianchuan County (defendant) for investigation.

On 20 February 2013, the defendant served Wang * with notice of the right to a hearing on forestry administrative punishment. On 27 February 2013, the defendant delivered to Wang * its No. 288 Written Decision on the Forestry Administrative Penalty [Jianchuan Forestry Penalty] (2013) (FAP), which stated: “Without obtaining any legal forest land acquisition and occupation permit, Yuxin Company commissioned Wang * to use an excavator to excavate for a road with a length of 494.8 meters and an average width of 4.5 meters, covering an area of 2,226.6 square meters, totaling 0.55 acres.” In accordance with Article 43(1) of the Regulations on the Implementation of the Forest Law of the People’s Republic of China, it was decided to impose administrative penalties on Wang * and Yuxin, requiring them to: (i) restore the land to its original status within a time limit; and (ii) pay CNY 10 per square meter of illegally changed forest land, totaling CNY 22,266.

After Yuxin paid the fine on 29 March 2013, the defendant closed the case. However, it failed to supervise and ensure that Yuxin and Wang * performed their obligation to restore the land and damaged forest vegetation to its original status within a time limit.

On 9 November 2016, the Jianchuan County People’s Procuratorate (Procuratorate) issued Procuratorial Advice to the defendant, suggesting that it should perform its duties in accordance with the law, conscientiously implement the administrative penalty decision, and take effective measures to restore forest vegetation.

On 8 December 2016, the defendant replied that it had immediately conducted serious research after receiving the Procuratorial Advice and took proactive measures. It sent police to Wang’s residence to remind him to implement the FAP and restore the land to its original status; but this implementation process had been terminated in view of Wang’s death. The defendant did not issue any reminder notice to Yuxin.

The court also found that the defendant was a section-level institution under the Forestry Bureau of Jianchuan County (FBJC). In early 2013, the FBJC authorized the defendant to handle all forestry and forest land penalties in the county.

On 27 September 2013, the Yunnan Provincial People’s Government (YPG) authorized all its forest public security departments to exercise forestry administrative punishment powers. On 20 November 2013, the YPG Legal Affairs Office announced the agencies qualified and authorized for forestry-related law enforcement, including the defendant.

On 11 December 2013, the Yunnan Provincial Forestry Department issued a notice approved by the YPG, stating that from 1 January 2014, all forest public security departments shall exercise 62 types of forestry administrative punitive power, and 11 types of administrative compulsory power.


On 19 August 2017, the People’s Court of Jianchuan County issued the [2017, Yunnan, 2931, Administrative First Trial, No. 1] Administrative Judgment:

1. Confirming that the defendant’s failure to perform the obligation specified in the FAP was unlawful; and

2. Ordering the defendant to discharge its statutory duties.

Neither party appealed. The judgment was executed, and the defendant performed its duties.


The court held that the public interest plaintiff filing a lawsuit was aligned with the scope of administrative public interest litigation stipulated in Implementing Measures for the Pilot Project for the Trial by People’s Courts of Public Interest Litigation Cases Instituted by People’s Procuratorate, issued by the Supreme People’s Court, and Implementation Measures for the Pilot Project for the People’s Procuratorate to Institute Public Interest Litigation, issued by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate,  and met the conditions for prosecution.

According to Article 26(6) of the Administrative Litigation Law of the People’s Republic of China, “If an administrative agency has been abolished, the administrative agency that carries on the exercise of functions and powers of the abolished agency shall be the defendant.”

On 27 September 2013, the YPG authorized all forest public security agencies to exercise some of the administrative punitive powers of the forestry administrative departments. Therefore, the defendant acquired forestry administrative punitive powers originally vested in the Forestry Bureau of Jianchuan County, making it the liable party.

In this case, after learning that Yuxin and Wang * had changed the forest land without authorization, the defendant—in the name of the Forestry Bureau of Jianchuan County—ordered Yuxin and Wang * to restore the land to its original status within a time limit and to pay a fine of CNY 22,266. While that decision complied with the law, the defendant did not ensure Yuxin and Wang * restored the damaged forest land to its original status within three years after the fine was paid; nor did it perform the duty on their behalf.

Consequently, the forest land unlawfully altered by Yuxin and Wang * had not been restored to its original status, and no evidence was provided to prove any lawful excuses for this. The defendant’s conduct was obviously improper, by failing to discharge its statutory duties: the administrative penalty decision had not been executed. The defendant had to perform its statutory duties according to the law, and take effective measures to ensure the altered forest land was restored to its original status within a reasonable time limit.

Key environmental legal questions

In environmental administrative public interest litigation, the court shall determine whether an administrative agency has discharged its statutory duties by examining:

(i) whether the perpetrator’s illegal acts have been effectively suspended;

(ii) whether the agency has adopted statutory regulatory measures adequately, timely and effectively; and

(iii) whether the national or public interests have been effectively protected.