Govt to seek repeal of over 1,000 obsolete laws in winter session

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Financial Express, September 30, 2014

The government is planning to introduce a fresh Bill in the winter session of Parliament to repeal over a 1,000 archaic laws in the financial, social, land and infrastructure sectors.

Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters at an informal meet that there was a need to ensure that redundant laws like Bengal District Act, which dates back to 1836, Bengal Bonded Warehouse Association Act (1838), Sheriffs’ Fees Act (1852), Dramatic Performances Act (1876), etc, are repealed to be in consonant with modern times.

In the next session of Parliament, 287 obsolete laws and amending Acts will be proposed to be repealed. Out of 72 obsolete statutes recommended by the Law Commission for repeal, 35 are the Central Acts and 22 are State Acts.

According to the law minister, nearly 700 Appropriation Acts are pending for the past several years where no follow-up action has been taken. While in England, such Acts remain in force only for 3-4 years, in India, any legislation passed by Parliament remains valid unless repealed, he told reporters.

The NDA government had already introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session for repealing 32 Acts. The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014, seeks to remove certain Amendment Acts and Principal Acts from the statute books as they have outlived their utility.

Prasad has also written to chief justices of all high courts to monitor cases relating to sitting MPs and MLAs against whom charges have been framed for the offences specified under Section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Pointing to the recent direction of the Supreme Court that trials in respect of Mps/MLAs, women, elderly persons, children and disabled should be decided speedily, Prasad has urged HC chief justices to evolve a suitable mechanism to monitor such cases so that the directions of the apex court are complied with by the trial courts in letter and spirit.

Meanwhile, sources in the law ministry said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has, in a letter to the law minister, said the Centre should clearly mention in National Judicial Appointments Bill that the governor will have to follow the advice of the state government in the appointment of high court judges.

Banerjee’s communication has come in response to a letter written by Prasad to all chief ministers requesting them to ratify a constitutional amendment Bill to make way for the proposed commission for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. Once the commission is put in place, it will scrap the present collegium system.

The Bill makes it clear that the views of the chief minister will be sought in writing and ?the role of the governor has to be seen in the constitutional sense. The law minister had clarified on the issue while replying to the debate on the Bill in Parliament,? a senior law official said.

In August, Parliament had passed a Constitution amendment Bill that will facilitate setting up of a commission for appointment of judges, replacing the 20-year-old collegium system which has been under severe criticism.

The Bill will make way for the setting up of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which will appoint and transfer judges to the Supreme Courts and the 24 High Courts. While the Rajasthan Assembly has already ratified the Bill, other states are likely to take up the exercise in October and November when their assembly sessions commence.

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