Why is Law Commission a toothless tiger?
Only 32.85 per cent of recommendations submitted by way of 277 reports have been implemented since its inception.
NEW DELHI: Law reforms in the last 300 years of Indian history have been a continuous process and the Indian Law Commission, which was constituted in 1955, has played a major role in this regard.
Tasked with the identification of laws that are not in harmony with the present climate and are no longer needed, the Law Commission aims to play a key role in maintaining satisfactory standards of the quality of laws.
Steered by the 'best legal minds' ever since its inception, the commission has been riddled with problems.
The fact that only 32.85 per cent of recommendations submitted by the Law Commission by way of 277 reports have been implemented gives us a fair idea of its failure to play an imperative role in influencing the Indian legislative landscape.
The first Law Commission gave a report titled, ‘Liability of the State in Torts; in 1956 and recommended enacting comprehensive legislation. A bill was introduced in 1965, which was reintroduced in 1967, but it got lapsed in 1970 due to the resolution of the Parliament.
The 22nd Law Commission recently recommended retaining the colonial sedition law, but the Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, in the wake of Opposition backlash, said recommendations in the report were persuasive and not binding.
Most of the recommendations are kept in cold storage. According to the Department of Legal Affairs, 16 reports were not accepted by the government. Over 100 reports are pending and information has been collected with regard to 52 reports.
The Madras High Court in K Pushpavanam vs The Union of India on August 17, 2021, said: “When an advisory body established by executive order for the purpose of making recommendations after analysing the issues thoroughly, inviting inputs from various stakeholders, including the public and after discussing and analysing all the inputs make a recommendation regarding a particular issue, it is the bounden duty of the Government either to act upon the recommendation or to take a decision to accept or to reject. It is very unfortunate that most of the recommendations are not acted upon. If such is the attitude of the government, it would make one think that there is no necessity for any law commission.”
After completion of the 21st Law Commission in 2018, the notification of the 22nd Law Commission was made after a period of 17 months and the appointment of members in 2022 not only added to the woes but also affected the progress of the law-making process in the country.
In the backdrop of limited influence which the Commission enjoys, the need of the hour is to reengineer this agency to strengthen its functioning.
This can be done by establishing accountability mechanisms for the Commission, appointing non-executive persons to maintain its independence and re-working its composition in such a manner that it comprises not only members from the legal fraternity but also members who belong to allied fields such as economics, sociology and political science.
Matter of fact
Only 32.85 per cent of recommendations submitted by way of 277 reports have been implemented
Over 16 reports were not accepted by the government
Over 100 reports are pending
It is very unfortunate that most of the recommendations are not acted upon…. It would make one think that there is no necessity for any law commission: Madras HC
Recommendations only persuasive and not binding: Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal