Rajya Sabha Passes Bills to Repeal Outdated Laws
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
In news: The Parliament passed two bills to repeal 245 obsolete laws including a 158 year old Calcutta Pilot Act 1859 and prevention of sedition meeting 1911. This exercise is aimed at bringing reforms in the legal system by repealing all obsolete laws. Some of the other laws are Hackney Carriage Act, 1879 which was legislated for the regulation and control of hackney carriages, Dramatic Performance Act, 1876 when theatre was being used a medium of protest against the British rule.
The government had set up 2 member panel to look up to repeal of archaic laws. Such exercise was done by parliament in 1950 when 1029 old laws were repealed. In 2004, 272 old laws were repealed and between 2005-14, 1031 laws were repealed. Thus, more laws have been repealed than enacted since independence.
There has been an elaborate exercises by government, several commissions set up and also 20th law commission of India did this exercise- LESS- Legal Enactments Simplification process wherein its objective is to prepare various reports on the laws, rules, regulations which need to be repealed or amended.
Reasons for repeal
- In the Indian society, the rule of law governs the society. So certain laws are obsolete with passing of time. Many laws being repealed were created by British parliament. Many acts don’t have relevance in the present time and they become hindrance to normal course of action.
- Passage of time or societal changes or value system. These laws require continuous updation with passage of time. For eg. Criminalization of gay sex was imposed by British in India. Now, Britain itself has done away with it and de-criminalized it. It is the time to change in India too as now SC has ordered for right to privacy and this is something that is a personal choice.
- The laws have been replaced by other laws and the old ones have not yet been repealed.
- There are judgements delivered by SC and the judgement overlaps the existing law. Thus the law is no more needed.
- There can be laws which are not in tune with international treaties and conventions signed by India.
- The cost of regulating some laws or having the laws is more than the benefit of having that law.
Benefits of archaic laws repealed
- There is a savings clause in the bill. It says that in all the existing cases, it will not have any bearing. For future cases, since the law ceases to exist, no future litigations can be started on basis of these laws.
- The entire process of law making and the way in which laws are administered, it has huge bearing on governance because unnecessarily, such huge number of laws are on statute books, somehow it will be invoked through litigation and governance will be hampered.
- This will also have a bearing on economy and business side. It is not about general laws. It is about the focus on business laws. There are many laws which can be consolidated and re-enacted as one law. This will help administration of business more efficiently.
The laws cannot be understood by the common man. But if the laws are simple and limited, it is easier for common man to understand and follow it. On the larger part, across the globe this exercise is taken and periodically- called as cleaning of statue books. But this cleaning of statues should come in institutional manner. Unless the entire process is institutionalized, the kind of problems faced till now shall continue. The appropriation acts have life of 1-2 years. It can be provided in the bill itself that it will cease to exit after particular time period.
State government laws also need a clean up act along with central government laws.
The tough part of the existing laws is to update them as per changing times and needs and for that, it is essential to remove the outdated law so as to bring in administrative efficiency as well as it doesn’t conflict with the requisite law.
Connecting the dots:
- Analyse the importance of updated laws and why outdated laws must be repealed.
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