Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the constitution of a committee to carry out a review to identify obsolete laws. The newly-constituted committee will examine all Acts recommended to be repealed by the Committee on Review of Administrative Laws, which had been appointed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in 1998.
The prime minister has expressed concern that out of the 1382 Acts recommended for repeal by that committee, only 415 have been repealed so far. He has called for a focussed and result-oriented exercise to systematically weed out archaic laws and rules. The committee will also examine Acts and rules which may have become obsolete within the last 10 to 15 years.
The committee will be chaired by R Ramanujam, secretary – PMO. VK Bhasin, former secretary, legislative department, will be the other member of the committee that will submit its report within 3 months so that a comprehensive Bill can be introduced in the winter session of Parliament based on its recommendations.
Early this month, the Law Ministry had prepared a bill to repeal 36 redundant Acts, which was the first time since 2001 that such an exercise was being undertaken by the ministry.
Out of 36 antequated Acts, 32 are Amendment Acts that were passed to change the existing laws; 4 others are Acts that have become outlived their utility. The decision is in tune with Modi’s agenda to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.
Soon after taking over, Modi had told a meeting of secretaries, “There may be rules and processes which have become outdated, and instead of serving the process of governance, they are leading to avoidable confusion.” He had stressed upon the need to “identify and do away with such archaic rules and procedures”.
After this bill, the government will move another measure to repeal more of such Acts in the next session of Parliament.
Between 1950 and 2001 over a hundred Acts have been repealed. At one time 100 such Acts were repealed. The Amendment Acts that are sought to be repealed include amendments to the Representation of the People Act and some provisions of the IPC. Two of the stand alone Acts that will also be repealed through the Bill are Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 and Sugar Undertaking Act.
The Law Ministry has written to all Union ministries and departments to identify redundant laws that can be repealed. It intends to give the list to the Law Commission, which is already working on identifying antequated laws. The commission has time and again recommended repealing Acts which have outlived their life in the statute books and are clogging them.
In May, 2002, the law panel had recommended that more than 800 old laws be removed from the statute books. The recommendations covered laws on poor relief, lotteries, turnpikes and Indian Railways. The oldest legislation dates back to 1322 (Statutes of the Exchequer), and the most recent is part of a Taxation Act from 2010.