news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | October 15, 2014 | 04:20 pm IST

Almost a 1000 archaic and irrelevant Indian laws are soon to be removed, some dating as far back as a hundred years ago.

Keeping up with Prime Minister Modi’s election promise to remove hundred old, irrelevant laws in his first 100 days in office, the Law Commission has recommended the repeal of 77 archaic laws, which includes 11 ordinances issued during the Second World War. This is the second set of laws after the first interim report released last month.

For example, the Indian Law Reports Act of 1875 states that no court can hear the report of any case unless specified under the State Government's authority. However, unofficial law reports have been mentioned many times by the Supreme Court making this law irrelevant.

Another law recommended for repeal is the Madras Compulsory Labour Act of 1858 which initially had restrictions on labourers regarding any breach in Presidency of Fort St. George in Madras that could be misused, since it handles compulsory labour which is against the rights mentioned in the Constitution. 

There is even a law called the Bangalore Marriages Validating Act , that validates certain marriages solemnised by one Mr. Walter James McDonal Redwood. According to Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society(CCS) which has come out with its own project identifying 100 such laws to be repealed, it wrote that “Mr. Walter James McDonald Redwood solemnised certain marriages in Bangalore mistakenly believing that he was duly authorised to do the same. The Act was enacted to validate these marriages. “

Another Act under the spotlight is the Shore Nuisances (Bombay and Kolaba) Act, 1852 which facilitates the removal of nuisances and encroachments below the high water mark in the areas. Meant to regulate discharge of waste products into the sea, the same is now governed under environmental laws.

Just last month, the Commission released its first interim report, “Obsolete Laws : Warranting Immediate Repeal” – An Interim Report” identifying 72 of the total 261 ordinances it had identified as obsolete. Addressed to Law Minister the report hoped that the recommendations will be a major step in simplifying the legal process. 

Some of the laws it had recommended for repeal then are listed below:

Howrah Offences Act, Act 21 of 1857

Enacted to direct penalties for offences committed in Howrah,Calcutta where the Act has not been used since its last recorded usage in 1956, it has been recommended for repeal. The law provides comparatively insignificant sentences relative to the IPC and other laws that have harsher penalities. More importantly, the law could be a escape route to avoid stricter sentences under the IPC.

Government Seal Act, Act 3 of 1862
This Act allowed for the seal of the local government to be used instead of the seal that the East India Company used. The Law Commssion said that such a law had no purpose in current times, as chances of documents needing the seal of the East India Company cannot arise !

Foreign Recruiting Act, Act 4 of 1874
This law gave the government the power to issue orders to prevent recruitment of Indians by a foreign state. However, the Law Commission in its 43rd report already said that such a power if weilded could violate the constitutional guarantee for freedom of occupation under Article 19. 

Young Persons(Harmful Publications), 1956
This Act was enacted to prevent dissemination of a few publications that could be harmful for young persons, as in, those people under the age of 21 years. 'Young' age was defined here to be 21, quite different from other legislations defining the majority age. 

Many of the total 101 statutes that the Law Commission has recommended for repeal have been marked because they have already been included under newer laws.

The CCS with an aim to “help the administration in their goal” to remove India of its ‘burdensome legacy’ has compiled a set of 100 laws that need to be repealed on the basis of the following conditions
1. they are either redundant (having outlived their purpose),
2. they have been superseded or subsumed by newer, more current laws,
3. they pose a material impediment to growth, development, good governance and individual freedom

Atleast a 1000 of such archaic laws are to be tabled under an obsolete bill in the Winter session of the Parliament, said Times of India. The 1998 Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government had recommended the repeal of 1,382 Acts of which only 415 have been repealed. 

But now even while the law ministry prepares a detailed bill, the PM has appointed a panel to look into all the recommendations and incorporate them. The final report will be submitted within three months, reported TOI.

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