He contacted all ministries and departments, seeking their opinion on the relevance of these laws and converting the resulting criminal responsibilities into civil offenses.
This move is in keeping with the government’s thinking to clean up the law book. There are many redundant and old laws or provisions which, over the years, have lost their relevance and continue to exist. In addition, many offenses invite criminal proceedings to clog the courts when pecuniary penalties would suffice.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had identified this cleansing as one of the main areas of intervention, which was also part of the election promise of the Bharatiya Janata party. Modi had said that if the party came to power, for every law passed, his government would remove 10 outdated or archaic laws.
An official told ET that the government will try to push through amendments consistent with responses from ministries in the next session of parliament.
“These laws are under review as to their purpose and relevance in the current context,” said the Ministry of Justice in a recent communication.
It was necessary to get the views or comments of ministries and departments to ensure that these laws are still relevant to be part of the law book and also to what extent and in what manner. “It is also necessary to provide comments or opinions regarding the conversion of any criminal liability for violation of the provisions of these laws into civil liability,” said the letter, reviewed by ET.
The 52 statutes identified by the department also include the Powers of Attorney Act of 1882, the Official Trustees Act, the Indian Succession Act, the Commercial Documents Evidence Act, 1938, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, the Limitation Act and the Specific Relief Act. among others. The government has already withdrawn from statute more than 1,200 archaic laws that had lost their relevance and decriminalized many more.
Many breaches of the Companies Act have been decriminalized and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech, announced that more laws would be passed for such decriminalization in the future.