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Centre constitutes 22nd Law Commission: what role does this body play?

After two and a half years, the 22nd Law Commission of India has been constituted with Justice (retd) Rituraj Awasthi as its head. What is the Law Commission of India, and what does it do?

Justice (retd) Rituraj Awasthi, former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, will head the Law Commission of India. (Source: allahabadhighcourt.in)

The Centre on Monday (November 7) constituted the Law Commission of India with Justice (retd) Rituraj Awasthi, former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, at its head. Law Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted that the other five members on the panel would be former Kerala High Court judge Justice K T Sankaran, M Karunanithi, and law professors Anand Paliwal, D P Verma, and Raka Arya.

Justice Awasthi took over as CJ of the Karnataka High Court in October 2021, and retired in July this year. He headed the Bench that in March this year upheld the state government’s restriction on women and girls wearing the hijab in educational institutions. Last month, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the appeal against the High Court’s order.

Justice Sankaran served in the Kerala High Court from 2005 to 2016. In 2009, Justice Sankaran decried the alleged practice of converting women to Islam in the guise of love, giving legitimacy to the theory of “love jihad”. This concept, the meaning and factual basis of which remain unclear, has since been used widely by politicians as a tool for communal polarisation.

Law Commission of India

The Law Ministry describes the Law Commission of India as a non-statutory body that is constituted by a notification of the Government of India, with definite terms of reference to carry out research in the field of law. The Commission makes recommendations to the Government (in the form of Reports) as per its terms of reference.

The Law Commission was first constituted in 1955, and has so far submitted 277 reports. According to the Law Ministry’s website, the “Law Commission of India provides excellent thought provoking and vital review of the laws in India”.

22nd Law Commission

The Commission headed by Justice Awasthi is the 22nd Law Commission of India. The tenure of the 21st Law Commission, which was headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B S Chauhan, came to an end on August 31 2018.

The 22nd Commission has been constituted two and a half years after it was approved by the Union Cabinet on February 19, 2020, just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. A petition had been moved in the Supreme Court subsequently against the delay in constituting the 22nd Commission.

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An official release at the time of Cabinet clearance had said the Commission would have a tenure of three years from the date of publication of the Order of Constitution in the Official Gazette.

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The release said that the Commission shall, among other things, “identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed; examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and suggest ways of improvement and reform and also suggest such legislations as might be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution”; and “revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities”.

First published on: 08-11-2022 at 12:48 IST
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