Govt's plan to repeal over 1000 archaic laws stuck in RS

New Delhi, Dec 27: Besides the GST Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious plan to scrap obsolete laws became another casualty of the logjam in the Rajya Sabha with two such bills seeking to repeal over 1000 such Acts failing to get Parliamentary approval in the winter session.

While Parliament has passed two bills to repeal a total of 125 obsolete laws, another two bills which seek to scrap a total of 1053 Acts are pending the Rajya Sabha since the budget session.

Govt's plan to repeal over archaic laws

Amid a logjam in the upper house, the two bills could not be taken up for consideration and passage and the government will now have to make a fresh push in the budget session which usually begins around February 21.

The Prime Minister had said he would be happy if the government could repeal one archaic law per day. One bill seeks to repeal 295 laws, while the other pending bill seeks to scrap 758 Appropriation Acts, including Railways (Appropriation) Acts, which have lost relevance and are clogging the statute books.

A large number of Appropriation Acts passed in the past several years have lost their meaning but these are still in the statute books. Appropriation Acts, which are intended to operate for a limited period of time, authorise expenditures for the duration of one financial year.

This is the first time since 2001 that such an exercise is being undertaken by the Law Ministry in line with Modi's agenda to do away with "archaic" laws which are "hindering efficient governance".

These bills are part of a periodic measure by which enactments that have ceased to be in force or have become obsolete or whose retention as separate Act is unnecessary are repealed, the Law Ministry had said in one of the Cabinet proposals to repeal such laws. Between 1950 and 2001, over 100 Acts were repealed. The Law Commission in its four recent reports on obsolete laws had recommended repeal of 72, 113, 74 and 30 obsolete acts, respectively.

A two-member committee chaired by R Ramanujan in the Prime Minister's Office was also constituted in September, 2014 for review of repeal of obsolete laws. The committee had identified a total number of 1,741 Acts for repeal.

In an embarrassment for the government, it had to withdraw in July a bill from the Lok Sabha which sought to repeal archaic laws, some of which were already repealed through a previous version of the same bill, to avoid the duplicacy, and now it is set to introduce a revised version.

The Bill, introduced in May this year, aimed at scrapping 187 old laws. Since 30 of them had already been repealed through the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill, 2014, the rest 157 will now be deleted from the statute books through the Repealing and Amending (Fourth) Bill, 2015, cleared by the Union Cabinet on July 16.


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