Even 10 months after Cabinet approval, Law Commission exists on papers only

Repealing of obsolete laws getting delayed

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 5: Even nearly 10 months after the Cabinet approval, the first ever Law Commission of Jammu and Kashmir is existing on the papers only as the coalition partners have failed to reach consensus on the names proposed by the Law Department for the posts of the Members of this vital body. Due to this, the much-needed removal of large number of obsolete laws from the Statute Books is getting delayed.
The process to establish Law Commission in the State on the analogy of National Law Commission was actually set into motion nearly five years back but due to one or other reason the same got delayed. Even the present dispensation made setting up of maiden Law Commission as its top priority. However, it took over two and half years to the PDP-BJP Coalition Government to obtain the approval of the State Cabinet.
The Cabinet vide its Decision No.107/9/2017 dated July 28, 2017 gave nod to the constitution of Law Commission of the State. Thereafter, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs vide Government Order No.3379-LD(A) dated August 4, 2017 fixed terms and conditions of the Chairperson and Members of the Law Commission.
Vide another Government Order No.3378 also dated August 4, 2017, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs ordered creation of posts of Chairperson, two Full Time Members, two Part Time Members, one Secretary and one Administrative Officer etc with the approval of the Finance and Planning Departments.
Though the Law Department immediately prepared a panel of eligible persons for the posts of Chairperson and Full Time Members of the Law Commission yet because of one or the other reason the same could not be placed before the State Cabinet for final decision for several months, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Finally, a memorandum recommending the name of former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Justice Mansoor Mir for the post of Chairperson and former Special Secretary Law Mohd Iqbal Mir and former District and Sessions Judge Ashok Kumar for the posts of Full Time Members was placed before the Cabinet on February 8, 2018.
However, because of lack of consensus among the coalition partners over the names of Full Time Members the Cabinet had to defer the proposal and it was decided that matter will again come up for discussion in the Cabinet only after PDP-BJP reach on the same page over the issue, sources said, adding “what to talk of resolving the issue the coalition partners have not even held formal discussion on the subject during the past over three months thereby creating impediments in making the maiden Law Commission functional”.
“By not resolving the issue the coalition partners have been undermining the authority of the Cabinet, which otherwise is considered as highest decision making body”, sources regretted, adding “it seems that PDP and BJP are not aware of the importance of the Law Commission otherwise three months was sufficient period to arrive at consensus on Full Time Members”.
Due to the prevailing situation, the much-needed removal of obsolete laws from the Statute Books and suitable amendments in many laws are getting delayed, sources said while disclosing that during the past many years exercise to update Statute Books has not been carried out for want of an exclusive body like Law Commission.
The importance of the Law Commission can be gauged from the terms of reference fixed by the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs vide Government Order No.3379 dated August 4, 2017.
As per these terms of reference, the Law Commission is supposed to identify State laws which are no longer needed or relevant; identify laws which require changes or amendments; suggest suitable measures for quick redressal of citizens grievances in the field of law; examine the laws which affect the poor and carry out post-audit for socio-economic legislations; to suggest measures for elimination of delays, speedy clearance of arrears and reduction in costs so as to secure quick and economical disposal of cases without affecting the cardinal principles that decisions should be just and fair; recommend to the Government measures for bringing the Statute Books up-to-date by repealing obsolete laws and enactments or parts thereof which have outlived their utility etc.