By Ashish Joshi
The Lok Sabha passed two bills on Tuesday that will repeal 245 obsolete and archaic laws from the Constitution. Several of these to-be repealed laws, like the Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act 1911, the Public Servants (Inquiries) Amendment Act 1850, the War Injuries Act 1943 were passed long before the independence and are outdated in the current context.
A bold move by the government
Back in 2014, the Modi government set-up a two-member panel to look into the matter of repealing archaic laws once it came into power. The panel consulted the Centre and the State Governments prior to recommending the legislation that needed to be repealed. As a result, within just three years, the current government has already scrapped around 1,824 outdated laws which it proudly boasts to be a result of its cleanliness drive to make the country reform-oriented.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the two bills passed will remove the outdated British-era laws that represent a colonial ruling mindset and are an unfortunate part of the colonial legacy we inherited. He, in fact, praised the current government’s initiative to repeal outdated laws saying, “It’s a great initiative to make the country reform-oriented.”
Decoding the decision: Rationale and implications
Abolishing of such laws grants more freedom to the press and the people. For example, one of the scrapped laws is the Dramatic Performance Act of 1876, which the British introduced to regulate theatres from becoming a medium of protest against the Colonial rule. Another is the Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act, which even the BJP is accused of using against the opposition activists in some states. Abolishing such laws opens up space for reforms and expression, which should be the backbone of a republic.
The government’s actions represent their attempt to create a structural and ideological shift in the jurisdiction of the State by opening it up for reforms as a result of a public expression. It can be considered as a huge step in the slowly progressive Indian State. In the 65 years prior to the current government, a total of 1,301 such archaic laws were repealed and in just three years of its rule, the BJP has already surpassed that number handsomely.
Extension to other avenues
Some leaders in the house also demanded to scrap Article 370 and adoption of a uniform civil code for the citizens, to which a BJP MP from Goa, Narendra Sawaikar, argued that his state is the only in the country to practise uniform civil code.
As much the country might need it, it is too bold a step for a republic government to take, at least in the current scenario when caste and religion play such a significant part in the Indian politics.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius