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Giving a fresh push to weed out archaic laws, Law Ministry will bring a new bill in Winter session of Parliament to repeal another 287 obsolete statutes even as it works overtime to ensure that 700 Appropriation Acts which have lost relevance are junked.

“While a bill is pending in Parliament to repeal 32 amendment Acts and four principal Acts, we plan to bring another bill to repeal 287 similar Acts,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

Based on the recommendation of the Law Commission, the Law Ministry is planning to carry out “legal scavenging” to repeal 700 Appropriation Acts which remain on statute books though they have lost relevance.

“We are consulting the Finance Ministry. I have asked my department to take a considered legal view on repealing these Appropriation Acts,” he said.

During the course of its study on archaic laws, the Law Commission found that a large number of Appropriation Acts passed during past several years have lost their meaning but are still shown on statute books.

“It is common knowledge that Appropriation Acts are intended to operate for a limited period of time-authorising expenditures for the duration of one financial year, or less, for example in the case of Vote on Account Bills. Though these Acts are not usually included in any list of Central Acts, either by the Ministry of Law and Justice, or elsewhere, these laws still technically remain on the books ,” the Commission had said in its recent interim report on obsolete laws.

It said repealing Appropriation Acts whose terms have ended will in no way cause any negative impact on actions that were validly taken under these Acts.

“As a caution and not entertaining scope of any doubt it may be safe to recommend that only those Appropriation Acts that are older than certain date, say 10 years, may be repealed. This itself would result in the repeal of more than 700 laws,” the law panel had said.

This is the first time since 2001 that such an exercise is being undertaken by the Law Ministry.

While the Law Ministry had mandated the Law Commission to recommend laws that can be repealed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month constituted a separate committee to identify “obsolete” laws which, he believes, hamper governance by creating “avoidable confusion”.

The newly constituted Committee will examine all Acts recommended to be repealed by the Committee on Review of Administrative Laws which had been appointed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998.
Out of the 1382 Acts recommended for repeal by that Committee, only 415 have been revoked so far.

On September 12, the Law Commission had recommended revoking 72 obsolete statutes, saying there is an “urgent need” to ensure that the legal structures are responsive to challenges of changing times.

One of the laws — Bengal District Act — recommended for repeal dates back to 1836. Several other laws recommended for revoking belong to period dating from 1838 to 1898.

In its interim report to the Law Ministry, the Commission said it will further study 261 more statutes “with a view to providing a firm recommendation for repeal of obsolete statutes and those inconsonant with modern times”.

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