By Harshit Chaubey

The term “Obsolete” in the title can be understood as the one which is in active . and the laws in the country which became obsolete should be scrapped for the benefit of the nation . Government are elected to pass the laws and these laws are some how put some restrictions on the individual activity , But when society observe that the restrictions which are put are for the benefit of the citizens then that society accepts those restrictions . And again somehow next questions will triggered in the mind that how many laws are there to protect the citizens. ?

And more importantly when these laws are not effective they become use less . so there is need to Repeal Such statutes , Repeal means to abrogate ,revoke or cancel a particularly statute. Any statute may repeal any act in whole or in part , either expressly or impliedly by enacting matter contrary to and inconsistent with the prior legislation. The courts will treat matter as repealed by implication only if the earlier and later statutory provisions are clearly inconsistent. When a repealing provision is itself repealed, this does not revive any provision previously repealed by it, unless intent to revive is apparent, but it may allow common law principles again to apply.

Under General Clauses Act, 1897, Section 6 “Repeal” connotes abrogation or obliteration of one statute by another, from the statute book as completely “as if it had never been passed.”

When an Act is repealed “it must be considered (except as to transactions past and closed) as if it had never existed.”

Legislature has the power to make laws at the same time it has the power to repeal the laws . The laws are repealed because they are inconsistent with their own structure , and so parliament may time to time can repeal such useless laws. The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019 was passed by the Rajya Sabha through voice vote. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 29 2019. The Bill was passed to bring the uniformity among the society . And the most importantly if the laws which are strong enough to deal with the matters of the society , then only effective society can be formed.

A statute is either” perpetual or temporary”. It is perpetual when no time is fixed for its duration, and such a statute remains in force until its repeal which may be express or implied. A perpetual statute is not perpetual in the sense that it cannot be repealed; it is perpetual in the sense that it is not abrogated by efflux of time or by non-user. A statute is temporary when its duration is only for a specified time, and such a statute expires on the expiry of the specified time unless it is repealed earlier.

A debate on the need to repeal obsolete laws has been set in motion in India with the government taking various steps to look into the matter. Even our erstwhile coloniser, Great Britain, initiated the process of repealing 38 such laws in the year 2013, which were passed between the years 1849 and 1942, pertaining to the construction and maintenance of the Indian Railways.

In past the law commission had submitted various reports identifying as obsolete and which demanded repeal . The 18 thand 81 stReports recommended to repeal of particular colonial law. The 18th Report sought to repeal of „Converts Marriage Dissolution Act‟ and the 81st Report recommended the repeal of „Hindu Widows Remarriage Act‟. The 96th Report recommended repeal of the substantial number of obsolete laws.The Government also in 1998 appointed the P.C. Jain Commission which gave its report in September 1998 identifying a large body of laws for the purpose of repeal .

The 20th Law Commission of India had undertaken a study “The Legal Enactments : Simplification and Streamlining” and the Committee till date had submitted four (interim) Reports titled “Obsolete Laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal” wherein it has identified, analyzed and duly recommended a number of archaic statutes as well as certain pre-constitution and pre-independence enactments for either complete or partial repeal as per contemporary requirements.

Prime Minister on August 2014 had approved the constitution of a Committee to carry out a review to identify obsolete laws and to examine all Acts recommended to be repealed by the Committee on Review of Administrative Laws, which had been appointed by the Union Government of the then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 1998. The Prime Minister has expressed concern that out of the 1382 Acts recommended for repeal by that Committee; only 415 have been repealed so far. He has called for a focused and result-oriented exercise to systematically weed out archaic laws and rules.

The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 25, 2019 by the Minister of Law and Justice , Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad . The Bill seeks to repeal 68 Acts and also made minor amendments to two other laws .

The Repealing and Amending Bill , 2019 repeals 68 laws that have been listed in the first schedule of the Bill in whole. These include -

(i). The Beedi Workers Welfare Fund Act , 1976.

(ii). The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act,2001.

The Bill has also amended certain laws which have a huge impact in the society such as -

There are many more acts that had been repealed-

(i). The Income Tax Act,

(ii). The India Institutes of Management Act, 2017.

  • The Indian Fisheries Act, 1897
  • The Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947
  • The Sugar Undertakings (Taking Over of Management) Act, 1978
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1999
  • The Indian Majority (Amendment) Act, 1999
  • The Administrators-General (Amendment) Act, 1999
  • The Notaries (Amendment) Act, 1999
  • The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1999
  • The Repealing and Amending Act, 2001
  • The Mariage Laws (Amendment) Act, 2001
  • The Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act, 2001
  • The Indian Succession (Amendment) Act, 2002
  • The Legal Services Authorities (Amendment ) Act, 2002
  • The Representation of the People (Third Amendment) Act, 2002.
  • The Transfer of Property (Amendment) Act, 2002
  • The Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2002
  • The Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Act, 2002
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2002
  • The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2003
  • The Election and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003
  • The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003
  • The Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Act, 2003
  • The Delimitation (Amendment) Act, 2003
  • The Delegated Legislation Provisions (Amendment) Act, 2004
  • The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005
  • The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2006
  • The Delimitation (Amendment) Act, 2008
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2008
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009
  • The Personal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2010
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010
  • The Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012
  • The Administrators-General (Amendment) Act, 2012
  • The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Act, 2013
  • The Export-Import Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 1998
  • The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Act, 1998
  • The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 1999
  • The Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Small Industries Development Bank of India(Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Food Corporations (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The National Housing Bank (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of
  • Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Amendment Act, 2000
  • The Major Port Trusts (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Insecticides (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Border Security Force (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The State Financial Corporations (Amendment) Act, 2000
  • The Multimodal Transportation of Goods (Amendment) Act, 2000.

Not only the above Acts which are mentioned above are repealed but many more had been repealed and some of the Acts had been Amended.

The Government Of India is using the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Epidemic Disease Act 1897 to tackle the corenavirus outbreak but one of the Act that is Epidemic Disease Act 1897 is outdated in some manner as it is not so fruitful in dealing with such a contangious and dangerous disease .

Though this act is outdated then also Many Indian States are using this outdated epidemic disease act 1897, as it have a provision of quarantine and mandatory screening . If any one violating the provision of the epidemic disease act 1897 can face prosecution , including imprisonment up to six months.

(i). History of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 -

The Epidemic Disease Act 1897 , was enacted to deal with the another contangious disease “ Bombay Plague “ that has also spread across the country and has led to the death of thousands. In 2009, the Maharashtra government invoked the Act in Pune to combat the swine flu outbreak. In 2015, it was invoked to deal with dengue and malaria in Chandigarh.

(ii). Provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 -

The Major Flaw in this Act that is does not defined neither dangerous epidemic disease nor the epidemic . As we aware of that Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constution states about Union List , State List, and Concurrent List . The Union List on which the Parliament is empowered to legislate upon , the State List on which the State legislatures could draft laws , and the Concurrent List which is open to both Union and the State to legislate upon . The matter of ‘Public health and sanitation; hospitals and dispensaries’ comes within the State . Section 2 of the act states about that law authorises state governments to take exceptional measures and prescribe regulations that are to be observed to limit the spread of the disease. The effect of which , Himachal Pradesh government has announced The Himachal Pradesh Epidemic Disease (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, the Delhi government has announced The Delhi Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, and the Government of Maharashtra has announced The Maharashtra COVID-19 Regulations, 2020.

Section 2A empowers the central government to inspect ships or vessels leaving or arriving at any port in India and detain people if necessary.

Section 3 makes it a criminal offence to disobey any regulation or order under the Act. This punishment is according to Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, which provides for a fine of Rs 200 and simple imprisonment of one month for violating an order of a public servant. The penalty of Rs 1,000 and imprisonment of six months can also be imposed, depending on the impact of the disobedience.

Section 4 gives protection under the law to officials and/or persons acting under the law.

(iii). Lack of Accountability in the Law — The notifications/orders issued thereunder are pure executive actions which can be further delegated to junior executives with little or no accountability.

Originally published at https://lawinsider.in on September 17, 2020.