The 20th Law Commission of India in its 248th Report has recommended for a repeal of 72 obsolete laws. The recommendation of the repeal is given so the the new laws may meet the needs of the present society, economy and framework.
Earlier the project named “Identification of obsolete laws” was suo moto undertaken by the 19th Law Commission. But, no significant result came due to various reasons.
Later on, the 20th Commission further decided to carry on the project and this 248th Report is the result of that approach. Various ministers were approached for relevant information to understand the degree and extent of the obsoleteness of these laws.
EARLIER STEPS BY COMMISSION ON OBSOLETE LAWS:
Earlier in its various reports the law commission had recommended for the repeal of some of the obsolete laws. These Reports were Report Nos. 18, 81,96, 148 &159..
CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMITTEE:-
- Justice A.P.Shah:- Chairman.
- Justice S.N. Kapoor:- Member.
- (Dr.) Mool chand Sharma:- Member.
- S.S. Chahar:- Member Secretary.
- K. Malhotra:- Ex-officio Member.
- Sanjay Singh:- Ex- officio member.
CRITERION FOR SELECTION:-
Out of the 261 statutes the Law Commission selected 72 statutes for the recommendation of repeal. Out of these 72 laws, 53 belong to Colonial Era, 15 is from the period between 1950s and 1980s and 4 from post-independence but before the time India became a Republic state.
All of these 72 laws have been recommended for the repeal due to the following reasons:-
- The subject-matter of the law in question is out-dated and a law is no longer needed to govern that subject.
- The purpose of the law in question has been fulfilled.
- New Laws and regulations governing the same-subject-matter.
APPROPRIATE LEGISLATING BODY?
The question which arose next was that that which would be the appropriate legislating body for repeal of these laws?
The answer of this question is decided by the Article 372 of the Indian Constitution which says that pre-independence laws continue to remain in force until repealed by the competent legislature. Competent legislature refers to the legislating body that has the power to make laws on a particular matter under Article 246 read with the seventh schedule.
In case, the subject-matter falls under the state-list the competent legislature would be the state itself.
OBSOLETE LAWS TO BE REPEALED:
Now, let’s have a look at the 72laws which are recommended by the Law Commission to be repealed:
- Bengal Districts Act, Act 21 of 1836.
- Bengal Bonded warehouse Association Act, Act 5 of 1838.
- Bengal Bonded warehouse Association Act, Act 5 of 1854.
- Forfeited Deposits Act, Act 25 of 1850.
- Sheriff’s Fees Act, Act 8 of 1852.
- Sonthal Parganas Act, Act 37 of 1855.
- Sonthal Parganas Act, Act 10 of 1857.
- Oriental Gas Company Act, Act 5 of 1857.
- Oriental Gas Company Act, Act 11 of 1867.
- Madras Uncovenanted officers’ Act, Act 7 of 1857: The distinction between covenanted and uncovenanted officers ceased to exist in present system. Thus, the law commission recommended its need for repeal.
- Howrah Offences Act, Act 21 of 1857: The last recorded case under this Act in the territorial limits of Howrah was in 1956. Since then it was never taken in use. Hence, recommended to be repealed.
- Calcutta Pilots Act, Act 12 of 189.
- Government Seal Act, Act 3 of 1862.
- Waste- lands(Claims) Act,, Act 23 of 1863.
- Oudh Sub-settlement Act, Act 26 of 1866.
- Converts’ Marriage Dissolution Act, Act 21 of 1866: This Act was enacted to allow the dissolution of marriages of converts from Hinduism to Christianity, on the grounds that they have been deserted or repudiated on religious grounds by spouse. It enables divorce proceedings to be initiated by the converted person, not his or her spouse. The scope of the Act was first considered in the 18th Law Commission Report (1960) which recommended repeal of the Act because of its limited scope. So, due to its limited nature the 248th Commission has also recommended for its repeal.
- Sarais Act, Act 22 of 1867.
- Ganges Tolls Act, Act 1 of 1867: With the enactment of ”The National Waterway(Allahabad-Haldia Stretch of the Ganga Bhagirathi Hooghly River) Act, 1982, this act became obsolete because the new law covered all the scope of this act. O, the Commission recommended for its repeal.
- Oudh Estates Act, Act 1 of 1869.
- Oudh Taluqdar’s Relief act, Act 24 of 1870.
- Dehra Dun Act, Act 21 Of 1871: Earlier the territory of Dehradun used to be moved from one jurisdiction to another. Thus, this act was enacted to give validity within Dehradun to the operation of General Regulations and Acts in force in Saharanpur. But, in present time Dehradun is the capital of Uttarakhand and its jurisdiction is also fixed.
- Punjab Laws Act, Act 4 of 1872: Newer laws exist with the same subject-matter. Hence, should be repealed.
- Foreign Recruiting Act, Act 4 of 1874: Act empowered the Govt. to issue an order preventing the recruitment of Indians by a foreign state. But, after independence, we all know that this violate the provision of Art. 19 of the constitution. Thus, it is outdated. Hence, should be repealed.
- Laws Local Extent Act,Act 15 of 1874.
- Central Provinces Laws Act, Act 20 of 1875.
- Oudh Laws Act, Act 18 of 1876.
- Dramatic Performances Act, Act 19 of 1876: This Act was used to curb national sentiments propagated through dramatic performances during the colonial era.
- Elephants’ Preservation Act, Act 6 of 1879: Wildlife(Protection) Act, 1972 has similar provision.
- Dekkhan Agriculturists’ relief act, Act 17 of 1879.
- Raipur and Khattra Laws Act, Act 19 of 1879.
- Fort Williams Act, Act 13 of 1881.
- Agriculturists Loans Act, Act 12 of 1884.
- Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, act 6 of 1886.
- King of Oudh’s Estate act, Act 19 of 1887.
- King of Oudh’s Estate act, Act 19 of 1888.
- United Provinces Act, Act 20 of 1890.
- Reformatory Schools Act, act 8 of 1897: Act is applicable only to boys under the age of 15 years not on girls. Thus, it violates the right to equality under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. This also violates the Juvenile Justice Act,2000.Hence, should be repealed.
- Live-Stock Importation Act, Act 9 of 1998.
- Prevention of Seditious Meetings act, Act 10 of 1911.
- Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and Assam Law act, Act 7 0f 1912.
- Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, Act 8 of 1912: Same subject-matter covered under the Wildlife Protection Act,1972.
- Destructive Insects and Pests Act, Act 20 of 1914.
- King of Oudh’s Estate Validation act, Act 12 of 1917.
- Police(Incitement to Disaffection) Act, Act 22 of 1922.
- Sheriff of Calcutta (Power of Custody) Act, Act 20 of 1931.
- Public Suits Validation act, Act 11 of 1932.
- Bengal Suppression of Terrorist Outrages(Supplementary) Act, Act 24 of 1932.
- Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, Act 2 of 1933.
- Assam Criminal Law Amendment(Supplementary)Act, Act 27 of 1934.
- Bangalore Marriages Validating Act, Act 16 of 1936.
- Berar Laws Act, Act 4 of 1941.
- Railways (Local Authorities’ Taxation) Act, Act 25 of 1941.
- War Injuries(Compensation Insurance) Act, Act 23 of 1943.
- Junagadh Administration(Property) Act, act 26 of 1948.
- Continuance of legal Proceedings Act, Act 38 of 1948.
- Mangrol and Manavadar(Administration of Property) Act, Act 20 of 1949.
- Delhi Hotels (Control and Accommodation) Act, act 24 of 1949: It empowers the Director of Estates the power to reserve upto one-fourth of the total accommodation available in certain private hotels. Now, this provision violates Art.19 . Hence should be repealed.
- Companies (Donations to National Funds) Act, Act 54 of 1951.
- Indian Independence Pakistan Courts (Pending Proceedings ) Act, Act 9 of 1952.
- Chandernagore (Merger) Act, Act 36 of 1954.
- Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, Act 45 of 1956.
- Newspaper (Price and Page) Continuance Act, Act 36 of 1961.
- Young Persons (harmful publications) Act, Act 93 of 1956.
- Women’s and Children’s Institutions (Licensing) Act, Act 105 of 1956.
- Orissa Weights and Measures (Delhi Repeal) Act, Act 57 of 1958.
- Travancore-Cochin vehicles taxation (Amendment and validation) Act, act 13 of 1967.
- Mahendra Pratap Singh Estates (Repeal) act, Act 48 of 1960.
- Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, Act 31 of 1962.
- Land Acquisition (Amendment and Validation) Act, Act 13 of 1967.
- Delhi and Ajmer Rent Control (Nasirabad Cantonment Repeal) Act, Act 49 of 1968..
- Parliamentary Proceedings ( Protection of Publication) Repeal Act, Act 49 of 1968.
- Shipping Development Fund Commmittee(Abolition) Act, Act 66 of 1986.
With the change in pace of time, law should also change. Famous Jurist Puchta had once said “Law grows with the growth and strengthens with the strength of people……..”. Thus, this effort of the 20th Law Commission is really appreciable.
By Mayank Kumar, Law College, Dehradun.