Clear up all the Legal Clutter

India needs to energise the legal system to make access to justice easier. India has an estimated 1,086 Central laws and 5,000 odd state laws and over 1,000 have been identified by the Law Commission with the potential to be repealed and these would help clear the statute books of clutter.

Earlier this year, the Law Commission in a series of four reports in September, October and November, recommended immediate repeal of 288 archaic laws, which have become obsolete and inconsistent with modern times.

The Law Commission has also has categorised all existing Central laws, numbering 1,086, into 49 carefully demarcated “subject-categories”.

The 100 Laws Repeal Project, by the Centre for Civil Society in collaboration with National Institute of Public Finance & Policy and Vidhi Legal Centre, this October too identified laws that needed to be repealed immediately.

With over 300 existing laws from the colonial era still existing in our statute books, there is immediate need to repeal them. Laws that need to be repealed range from high impact, which would ease constraints in the business environment, to low impact that mostly deal with the ones from British era.

Laws linked to Oudh and Wajid Ali Shah Oudh Sub Settlement Act (1867), Oudh Estates Act (1869), Oudh Taluqdars’ Relief Act (1870), Oudh Laws Act (1876) and Oudh Wasikas Act (1886) were enacted to provide for the administration of the estate of Wajid Ali Shah, the King of the erstwhile princely state of Oudh.

These gave exclusive authority to the Governor General in Council to act in the administration of the property of the King of Oudh and satisfy all claims made against it.

The other laws in this group also defined and regulated the succession rights of Taluqdars and other landholders in certain estates in Oudh and dealt with matters such as issues related to land revenue, and questions regarding adoption, guardianship, succession, and partition.

Oudh is now a region in Uttar Pradesh called Awadh and ceases to exist as a separate administrative unit and with the end of princely states and taluqdari system, these laws have become obsolete.

Laws specifically linked to East India Company that are redundant now include Government Seal Act, Act 3 of 1862; Bengal Districts Act, Act 21 of 1836; Bengal Bonded Warehouse Association Acts, Acts 5 of 1838 and 1854; and Sheriffs’ Fees Act, Act 8 of 1852.

At least 700 of the Appropriation Acts, which clog the statute books, need to be repealed as their terms have come to an end.

No obsolete laws have been repealed or weeded out since 2001, according to the 100 Laws Repeal Project.

“These laws should be repealed on account of three reasons they are redundant having outlived their purpose, have been superseded/subsumed by more current laws, or pose a material impediment to growth, development, governance and freedom,” the initiative has urged the Central government.

Compiled by our bureau with inputs from senior lawyers.

Read the story on Deccan Chronicle website.