Crores spent, yet obsolete laws live

As reported by Swapna Tarafdar in New Delhi June 23, 2008 09:57, Rediff.Com

Several recommendations of the various law commissions on repealing of obsolete laws, including the Official Secrets Act, have failed to elicit a positive response from the government in an exercise over which crores of rupees were spent during the past ten years.

In reply to an application filed by RTI activist Debashish Bhattacharya, the law ministry said that the recommendations made by the law commission may 'be accepted or rejected'.

"They are recommendations. They may be accepted or rejected. Action on the said recommendations depends on the ministries/departments, which are concerned with the subject matter of the recommendations," T K Viswanathan, secretary in the law ministry, said in the reply.

Asked about the enormous amount of tax payers' money spent on recommendations which are not implemented, he pleaded helplessness over the issue.

Bhattacharya said these recommendations are coming from retired judges of High Court and Supreme Court.

"Before retirement, whatever judgment they delivered was binding. Now after retirement, some administration sitting on their judgment and judging their stated recommendations is nothing but a mockery of the whole judicial system."

S N P Sinha, chairman of Bar Council of India, said, "That is why I say that retired judges should not accept post-retirement appointments."

"Because they are appointed by the government for the government, they develop a soft corner for the government and become pro-government. And when their recommendations are against the government, it gets rejected," added Sinha.

The budget allocation for the law commissions in the past ten years was Rs 18.05 crore while the National Commission for Review of the Constitution incurred an expenditure of Rs 2.36 crore.

The budget allocation for the law commissions from 1998 was Rs 1.17 crore for (1998-99), Rs 1.46 crore (1999-2000), Rs 1.87 crore (2000-01), Rs 1.58 crore (2001-02), Rs 1.80 crore (2002-03), Rs 1.74 crore (2003-04), Rs 1.66 crore (2004-05), Rs 1.77 crore (2005-06), Rs two crore (2006-07), Rs 2.44 crore (2007-08) and Rs 1.87 crore (2008-09).

There were three law commissions in the past ten years with Justice B P Jeevan Reddy heading the 16th Law Commission, followed by Justice M Jagannatha Rao (17th commission) and Justice A R Lakshmanan (18th Law Commission). All were retired Supreme Court judges.

Debashish Bhatacharya said, "They spend crores every year on these law commissions. If the acceptance of the recommendations is dependent on the administrative body then it is nothing but waste of tax-payers' money."

"That is why I suggest that the job should be given to a known jurist or academicians of high repute with doctorate of law. Such appointments are a mockery of the whole profession," said Sinha.

The commissions are appointed to review/repeal of obsolete laws to keep under review the system of judicial administration or to examine the existing laws.

Crores spent, yet obsolete laws live