The Centre is yet to approve the reconstitution of the 22nd Law Commission. In September 2018, the law ministry cleared the proposal and sent it for Cabinet’s approval in its meeting scheduled in the last week of the same month.
According to a source, with a major election in sight the search for new chairman to head the commission has been put on the backburner. The 21st Law Commission tenure ended in August 2018 and several legal issues under its deliberation could not be processed.
WHAT IS THE UTILITY OF LAW COMMISSION?
The commission identifies laws which are no longer required or relevant and can be repealed; spearheads research on introducing new law, advises the government on legal issues, reviews the existing laws etc. It is vital in involving stakeholders in formulating proposals for law reforms. The Commission’s staff evaluates information and prepares a report and summary for a draft amendment or a new bill and presents it to the Government. In the absence of full-fledged and operation commission, the government may struggle to update or introduce new laws as per the changing needs of the country. The commission also plays an important in advising the government on issues of national security, the Antrix-Devas case, Isro and government lost the case; and the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice.
The 21st Commission
The 21st Law Commission was headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice B S Chauhan. He completed the three-year tenure on August 31, 2018. During his term, the commission had taken challenging issues like Uniform Civil Code, though it prepared a draft report it is necessary nor desirable, and simultaneous election of assemblies and Parliament, but could not finalize its recommendation on the issues before the tenure was completed. The reconstitution of the commission requires Cabinet’s approval. Then, the appointment of the chairman and its members are formalized by an executive order.
COMMISSION WITHOUT A HEAD
Sources familiar with the proceedings in the commission informed India Legal that it is being driven without any focus since September 2018, as the commission’s secretariat at Lok Nayak Bhawan is still operational. “No research is happening in the commission, and it has not sent recommendations to the government. The commission has been reduced resolving administrative issues in the secretariat. And, nothing seems to happening before the elections too,” said a source on the condition of anonymity. Recently, the Supreme Court slammed the Rajasthan government for the pathetic conditions of the court buildings and housing issues for the judicial officers. “An operational commission could have prepared a report on the existing judicial infrastructure and presented its recommended before the government, which could later be communicated to the apex court, since the commission is not reconstituted nothing can be done,” added the source.
—India Legal Bureau