What are the NPCSC’s powers of interpretation of the Basic Law? Article 67(4) of the PRC Constitution and Article 158(1) of the Basic Law gives NPCSC has a freestanding and plenary power of interpretation of the Basic Law. This was also confirmed in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal case of Lau Kong Yung v Director of Immigration (1999) 2 HKCFAR 300. However, this power should be sparingly used. Both the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong have in the past consistently called on the NPCSC to use this power with great restraint, as this would give rise to concerns about the rule of law and judicial independence.
On 7 November 2016, the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress (“NPCSC”), in purported exercise of its powers under Article 158 of the Basic Law, issued an interpretation in relation to Article 104 of the Basic Law (“the Interpretation”). 2. This is the fifth time the NPCSC has interpreted the Basic Law. In summary, and as further explained below, the Progressive Lawyers Group’s submissions on the Interpretation are set out in this statement.