Judicial Reforms

In news: Law Commission of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Law Commission of India

Mains level : Role of Law Commission in Legal Reforms

The Government has informed the Supreme Court that the appointment of Chairperson and Members of the 22nd Law Commission of India is under consideration.

Why in news?

  • The setting up of the 22nd Law Commission was constituted by the Government on February 21, 2020.
  • However, no progress has been made in the appointments till date.
  • The Government invoked the ‘doctrine of separation of power’, which says that one arm of governance should not encroach into that of another.

Issues over appointment

  • The last chairman of the law commission was retired Supreme Court judge, Justice B.S. Chauhan, who completed his tenure on 31 August 2018.
  • Subsequently, the Commission has not been reconstituted.
  • In February 2020, the Government of India announced its intention to reconstitute the Commission with no visible progress.

About Law Commission

  • Law Commission of India is a currently-defunct executive body established by an order of the Government of India.
  • The Commission’s function is to research and advise the GoI on legal reform, and is composed of legal experts, and headed by a retired judge.
  • The commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • The last chairman of the Commission retired in August 2018, and since then, it has not been reconstituted.

Colonial Background

  • The first Law Commission was established during colonial rule in India, by the East India Company under the Charter Act of 1833.
  • It was then presided by Lord Macaulay.
  • After that, three more Commissions were established in pre-independent India.

Post-Independence functioning

  • The first Law Commission of independent India was established in 1955 for a three-year term.
  • Since then, twenty-one more Commissions have been established.

Major reforms undertaken

  • The First Law Commission under Macaulay Itsuggested various enactments to the British Government, most of which were passed and enacted and are still in force in India.
  • These include the Indian Penal Code (first submitted in 1837 but enacted in 1860 and still in force), Criminal Procedure Code (enacted in 1898, repealed and succeeded by the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973), etc.
  • Thereafter three more Law Commissions were established which made a number of other recommendations the Indian Evidence Act (1872) and Indian Contract Act (1872), etc. being some of the significant ones.

Role in legal reforms

The Law Commission has been a key to law reform in India.

  • Its role has been both advisory and critical of the government’s policies
  • In a number of decisions, the Supreme Court has referred to the work done by the commission and followed its recommendations.
  • The Commission seeks to simplify procedures to curb delays and improve standards of justice.
  • It also strives to promote an accountable and citizen-friendly government that is transparent and ensures the people’s right to information.

 

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