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With parliament passing the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2015, 36 outdated laws will soon be removed, improving business environment

By Vishwas Kumar


Former Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie may be unhappy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a host of issues, but he should be pleased with the government for vigorously easing out outdated laws. Rec-ently, parliament passed the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2015, which will pave the way for removing these laws. It was Shourie who had announced in parliament 16 years back that the government should scrap around 1,300 outdated laws, many a legacy of British times. But the then government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee could only delete 357 due to lack of strength in parliament.

However, with Modi allocating high priority to this issue, the passage of the above bill within a year of coming to power will help in scrapping 36 redundant acts.

LONG ROAD AHEAD

Highlighting the significance of the bill, lawyer and Lok Sabha MP Pinaki Misra said during a debate in parliament: “This is a very important piece of legislation. In 1998, the Jain Commission had recommended that out of 2,500 central laws, more than 1,300 nee-ded repealing. We are looking at 36 Acts in this particular piece of legislation. This does not go far enough.

“We have to realize that a major deterrent to investment is India’s inability to enforce contracts, thanks to this myriad maze of laws and also an ill-equipped judiciary. There is a World Bank report, ‘Doing Business-2014’, which points out that it can take up to 1,400 days in India to obtain a legal remedy for non-enforcement. The cost can run up to 40 percent of the claim in India. Parliament has legislated with great alacrity. The enforcement of laws and the lack of it have also been done with a great deal of alacrity,” he said.

Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, who piloted the bill, also informed the House that the government was examining the provision of sunset clause (a provision in a bill that gives it an expiry date once it is passed into law) for automatic removal of some laws. The government would soon take corrective measures to improve dispute resolutions mechanism, he said.

“I do concede that delay in disposal of disputes has created much confusion among people. Even in the arbitration cases, people prefer to file them outside India. Now, this government has taken an initiative to bring some stringent amendments to the Arbitra-tion Act. This will be placed before parliament in the next session. The Law Commission has given a report for establishment of Commercial Benches in high courts. The bill in this regard will be brought before parliament in the next session so that all these things will help in the ease of doing business in India,” informed Gowda.

He further disclosed that nearly 1,741 redundant laws were in existence. “We have already prepared a draft bill for repealing nearly 741 Appropriation Acts (part of annual Finance Bills). Another Bill is already there for 79 repealing and amending Acts before the Rajya Sabha. That is also being taken up immediately. Certainly, the Statute Book will be cleared so that there should not be any confusion in the process of disposing of cases,” said Gowda.

Retired Justice AP Shah (left), chairman of the 20th Law Commission, says that one of the main reasons for repealing obsolete laws was the call of modern times.

“As far as the constitution requirement of resolution under Article 252 (This article deals with the power of parliament to legislate for two or more states by consent and adoption of such legislation by any other state) is concerned, it cannot be waived off by parliament without seeking proper redressal. So, at this stage, that could not be done,” he said, while expressing the technical difficulty in immediately introducing the sunset clause.

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LAW COMMISSION

Retired Justice AP Shah, chairman of the 20th Law Commission, in his report on outdated laws quoted the recommendation made in the Commission’s 96th report.
It said: “Every legislature is expected to undertake what may be called the periodical spring-clearing of the corpus of its Statute Law in order that deadwood may be removed and citizens may be spared the incon-venience of taking notice of laws which have ceased to bear any relevance to current conditions. This process in itself assumes still greater importance in modern times when Statue Law is growing in bulk and mag-nitude….”

Justice Shah said that one of the main reasons identified by the 96th report for repealing obsolete laws was the call of modern times. Incidentally, this report was presented in 1984, and history has seen very fast changes since then. “Thus, the force of the call for repeals of obsolete laws and need for modernization gets reinforced,” he said in his recommendation.

The Law Commission has chosen three criteria to determine uselessness of all existing laws. First, the subject matter of the law has to be outdated and the law is no longer needed to govern that subject; second, the purpose of the law has been fulfilled and third, there is a newer law or regulation governing the same subject matter.

So it is out with the old.

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