In order to identify obsolete laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27th August 2014 set up a Ramanujam committee. The committee was being established to identify the laws, the Committee believes; hamper governance by creating avoidable confusion.
The Committee under the chairmanship of R. Ramanujam, Secretary in the PMO, along with V.K. Bhasin, former Secretary, Legislative Department, will be other member of the Committee.
The committee was expected to submit its report in three months and on the basis of its recommendations a bill was to be introduced in Parliament in the winter session. The committee was to examine Acts and Rules which may have become obsolete within the last 10 to 15 years.
Earlier, in 1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had appointed a committee on the review of Administrative Laws.
The committee recommended repealing some 1382 Acts, out of which only 415 have been repealed so far. The newly-constituted Committee examined all Acts recommended to be repealed by the Committee on Review of Administrative Laws.
The committee, which was chaired by R Ramanujam, Secretary, PMO, examined all acts recommended to be repealed by the Committee on Review of Administrative Laws appointed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998. The PM had expressed concern that out of the 1,382 Acts recommended for repeal by that committee; only 415 had been repealed so far.
Results of Ramanujam Committee
The two-volume report by the Ramanujam Committee, put up on the PMO website on 30th January, 2015, was prepared in two months, after taking into account recent recommendations of the Law Commission. While, some obsolete Acts pointed to by the panel were introduced in 1842, some came into being in 2013.
Of the Acts recommended for repeal, those introduced in the 19th century like the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, the Revenue Bombay Act, the Foreign Recruiting Act, the Public Servants Inquiries Act, the Howrah Offences Act, the Land Acquisitions Mines Act, the Government Management of Private Estates Act, the Elephants Preservation Act, the Indian Tramways Act and the Excise Malt Liquors Act are the ones. The Committee has also identified 150 Central Acts on related subject matter which can be consolidated and enacted into 21 Central Acts to avoid multiplicity of laws. Besides, 55 of the central laws identified for repeal, including ‘The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867’ should be re-enacted according to the reports of Ramanujam Committee.
The panel recommended retention for the time being of 18 Central Acts that had been suggested for repeal by other committees. On many of these laws, the panel said the administrative ministry concerned could take the final decision in consultation with the law ministry.
More recent Acts that the panel said were redundant included the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Amendment Act, 1981, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Amendment Act, 2000, which is for partial repeal, the Protection of Human Rights Amendment Act, 2000 again for partial repeal; the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Act, 2011 for partial repeal; the National Highways Authority of India Amendment Act, 2013, for partial repeal; and the Securities and Partial repeal of Exchange Board of India Amendment Act, 2013.
As on October 15, 2014, there were 2781 Central Acts on the Statutes Book.
The Law Commission recently submitted four reports recommending repeal of 288 archaic laws. These are in addition to the commission’s five reports on the issue that were never acted upon. PC Jain Commission too had recommended repeal of 1382 central laws in 1998 and by March 2002, 315 of these laws were repealed.
The Ramanujam Committee has prepared a Model Draft Repealing Bill, 2014 and said ministries concerned may further add other central acts which may be identified by them for repeal.
Of the total 1741 laws recommended for repeal, 777 were central acts; 624 were Central Appropriation Acts up to the year 2010; 257 were Central Appropriation Acts in respect of states and 83 related to state subjects identified for repeal by the state legislatures.
The committee noted that during 115 years before the commencement of the Constitution, 2911 central acts were enacted and thereafter during 66 years, 3,701 central acts came into existence.
The Ramanujam committee was set up by BJP Govt. The step was indeed a very good one in identifying the obsolete laws which could be repealed because they were obsolete and not needed now. The committee has recommended for repeal of 1741 old obsolete laws. It needs lot of time energy to go through each and every law and certify that they are actually useless, to be repealed. It must be remembered that the committee and PM did a wonderful job, in getting the work done within four months.