When Prime Minister Narendra Modi first spoke of his government’s intention to repeal one outdated law every day, he may not have imagined the extent to which his government would go to achieve the target. It has now come to light that at least 30 laws that already stand repealed are part of an amendment bill introduced by the law ministry in parliament earlier this month.
Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is upset over the faux pas.
Following up on the Prime Minister’s announcement, the law ministry has so far introduced three repealing and amendment bills in parliament, of which two have already been passed by both houses. The problem is the third bill — The Repealing and Amending (Third) Bill, 2015, introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 13 by Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda. Of the 187 “existing” laws that the bill proposes to repeal, 30 have already been repealed and are no longer part of the statute books.
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Most of these were repealed after the parliament passed the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill, 2015, which received the President’s assent on May 14, a day after Gowda introduced the third Bill in the Lok Sabha. The amendments were notified by the law ministry the same day.
Among the repealed laws that the government has proposed to repeal again are The Export-Import Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 1998; The Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2000; Small Industries Development Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 2000; National Housing Bank (Amendment) Act, 2000; Major Port Trusts (Amendment) Act, 2000; General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Act, 2002; Banking Regulation (Amendment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004; The State Bank of India (Amendment) Act, 2007; Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Act, 2007and Banking Laws (Amendment) Act, 2012.
All these were earlier repealed through the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill, 2014 introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 3, 2014 by Gowda himself. This bill, which proposed to repeal 90 laws and pass amendments to two laws, was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 8, 2014 and by the Rajya Sabha on May 5.
At least three committees, including the Law Commission of India, have “undertaken a comprehensive review of laws and the legal system with a view to remove incoherent and redundant laws”. All three amendment bills were drafted on the basis of the recommendations of these committees.
The first Repealing and Amending Bill repealed 35 Acts, the second one repealed 90 Acts while an Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Bill, 2015 is aimed at repealing 758 Appropriation Acts that ceased to be in force after one year of their enactment and are therefore obsolete.
While Gowda could not be contacted, a senior government functionary said the law minister would have to introduce official amendments to the pending bill to deal with the problem. “We are looking into the issue. Beyond that I can’t tell you anything,” said the officer who did not want to be named.