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No plan to grant statutory body status to Law Commission: Centre’s affidavit in Supreme Court

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The Central Government has said it is not considering making the Law Commission a statutory body in an affidavit in the Supreme Court.

The Ministry of Law and Justice affidavit said the government was considering the appointment of Chairperson and Member of the 22nd Law Commission of India and that the Law Commission was constituted on February 21, 2020.

The Central government affidavit, by Suneel Sachdeva, Deputy Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law, is in reply to the petition filed by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking a direction to the Centre to appoint chairperson and members of the Law Commission of India within a month and giving it the status of a statutory body.

The affidavit said the petitioner’s (Upadhyay) invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of the Apex Court in this matter is frivolous and not maintainable being devoid of merit.  

“That the petitioner has not come with clean hands and has raised an issue which clearly falls out of the doctrine of separation of power and the Government is presently seized of the matter regarding appointment of Chairperson and Members of the Law Commission of India,” the affidavit reads.

According to the petition, the cause of action accrued on August 31, 2018, and continued, when the tenure of 21st Law Commission came to an end and the Centre neither extended the tenure of its Chairperson and Members nor notified Twenty-Second Law Commission.  

Further though on 19.2.2020, the Centre approved the constitution of Twenty-Second Law Commission but it has not appointed the Chairperson and Members till date, said the petitioner.

Highlighting the importance of the Law Commission, the petitioner has submitted, “Injury to the public is extremely large as the Law Commission of India is headless since 1.9.2018 hence unable to examine public issues. Even the directions of the Constitutional Courts to Law Commission have become dead letters.”

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Moreover, since the Law Commission has not worked since 1.9.2018, the Centre does not have the benefit of recommendations from this specialized body on the different aspects of law, which are entrusted to the Commission for its study and recommendations.

The petitioner has pointed out the role of the Law Commission and submitted,

“The Commission, on a reference made to it by the Centre, Apex Court and High Courts, undertakes research in law and reviews existing laws for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations. It also undertakes studies and research for bringing reforms in justice delivery systems for elimination of delay in procedures, speedy disposal of cases, reduction in cost of litigation etc. The Law Commission of India not only identifies laws that are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed but also examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and suggest the ways of improvement and reform. The Commission also suggests such legislation as might be necessary to implement Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in Preamble of the Constitution.”

Further, the Law Commission of India considers and conveys to the Centre, Apex Court and High Courts, its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that is referred to it and also considers the requests for providing research to foreign countries. It takes all measures as may be necessary to harness law and the legal process in the service of the poor and revise Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and the inequities. The Law Commission has been able to make important contributions towards the progressive development and codification of Law of the country and it has so far submitted 277 reports.

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The petitioner has further stated that it is not merely the right of an individual to move the Supreme Court, but also responsibility of the Court to enforce fundamental rights. Therefore, if the petitioner satisfies the Supreme Court that his fundamental right has been violated, it is not only the ‘right’ and ‘power’, but the ‘duty’ and ‘obligation’ of the Court to ensure that the petitioner’s fundamental right is protected and safeguarded.

It is pertinent to note that in January this year, the bench of then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian issued notice on the plea.

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