Rajasthan is set to repeal at least 247 of its 592 acts this month. Experts voice they should not be repealed just for benefitting the corporates but the law must reach the last man in society. They also say that repealing acts do not necessarily ensure good governance.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje wants to review some of the redundant laws to ensure the broader objective of minimum government and maximum governance. Raje in an article in a leading daily had written that our laws must be living documents that are continuously reviewed from the lens of an individual citizen. Raje has expressed that excessive legislation not only clogs our court system but is a breeding ground for discretion, harassment and corruption.
Rajasthan has used three tests for repeal, if the law is not used, if there are other laws or rules, which cover the same thing and if there will be a reduction in needless discretion or public harassment.
Appreciating the move,Dr Sudhir Verma, former bureaucrat and director of a think-tank, Shiv Charan Mathur Social Policy Research Institute, says : “I appreciate the spirit of Raje’s Law Review programme but hope that this review is objective and in the interest of the common man especially the vulnerable sections. However, trashing the unused laws will not reduce the number of cases, their duration in the courts and the drudgery of litigants.”
He adds: “Laws and acts are made to protect the interests of its citizens. My experience of working in the government, civil society for over half a century shows that there are many laws which instead of being useful for people, have been used to harass them. I think that one of the reasons has been the lack of review and amendments in wake of the changing times.”
Rajasthan’s only Law Commission to review existing laws in the state was constituted in 1992 under BJP Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and was headed by former Justice V S Dave.
Justice Dave says: “Eleven hundred acts were passed by the state government between 1950-92. Out of them, we recommended scrapping of 800. The view was to keep only those acts, which reach the last man in the society. I presented nine reports and suggested consolidation of laws. But nobody now knows about those nine reports in the government. They have been misplaced.”
Justice Dave says: “Repealing of redundant laws is welcome but I think the Chief Minister has not been briefed about the past reports of the Law Commission. People’s involvement in general law should be a priority. Repealing of acts should be to reduce the rampant inspector raj. This institution of inspector raj needs to be removed by law. Bureaucrats do not want laws to be amended. The commission was winded up after questions were raised about its recommendations, action taken and expenditure (Rs 77 lakh as per official figures) on it in the state assembly. But we did so much ground work for it, holding camps in every district, dialogue with common man, bringing out literature to make law simpler for aam aadmi. ”
Congress state chief Sachin Pilot says : “NDA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi is relentlessly pursuing the neoliberal agenda. Such an exercise is also being relentlessly followed by Raje. But to rule a country, where 40 million people take a dip in Godavari to wash off their sin in a festival (Pushkaram), requires both patience and compassion along with a vision. In such conditions, role of the state is vital. Abolishing certain archaic laws by the state is no guarantee for good governance as claimed by Raje.”