Setting up of a Law Commission

Prof Ramanuja Devanathan
The J & K Government has decided to constitute a Law Commission whose fate is in question. The Minister in Charge of Legal Affairs made an announcement one and a half years back that the State would establish a Law Commission. After an announcement during the Budget Session last year and after the frenzied activity, the department  decided on the framework and the Finance and Planning Departments also after making several queries and raising objections on man-power to be deployed in the proposed commission finally gave its concurrence for the Commission to be set up. However, at the final stage in the Cabinet Meeting chaired by the CM, the item was deferred due to objections by its ally party ministers on the ground that it is linked to the Article 370 that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The Cabinet deferred the decision of establishing Law Commission on the ground that no hasty decision is to be taken that would create controversy when the Assembly elections are on. It is a political decision that would argue whether  the framing of the commission is linked to Article 370. Already a debate is on Article 370 on the statement made by a Central Minister. And the framing of Law Commission at this juncture would affect the political gains of the ruling coalition Government.
In fact establishing the Law Commission was conceived on making changes in the existing obsolete laws, framing new laws that suit the current situation, suggesting measures for reformation in the judicial sector, taking opinion from the public making the existing law relevant and help the government in amending the existing law. The commission would also suggest measures for laying down the policies of the judicial reforms and to suggest ways and means for speedy and timely deliverance of justice to the utmost satisfaction of the public. The commission is also aimed to suggest measures for making the judiciary system more independent and efficient in delivering the justice. The commission could also concentrate on training aspects of judges and keeping a vigil on the performance of the government advocates and thereby making their judicial knowledge up to date and to make them well-informed. The commission would also suggest measures for making the judiciary accountable as an alternate judicial resolution mechanism. This will take initiative in establishing Panchayat Adalats – the concept that would deliver judgment at the door steps of the public as an alternate solution.
Further, the State Accountability Commission established under the J & K Accountability Act 2002 could be merged with the proposed Law Commission that would minimize the expenditure considerably to the state exchequer, as the main focus of this commission is to check corruption and to concentrate on ethics and governance of the Government. The Law Commission could also focus its attention on the offences of National Security – a menace that affects the routine and peaceful life of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It could take cognizence of the report  submitted by the National Law Commission way back in 1971. The Commission could also think introducing fundamental laws in the curriculum of the secondary and higher education and suggest measures for the same. It could also work towards protecting consumer rights and involve Universities and higher education institutions in this direction. The higher education institutions could be made accountable for keeping informed the public and others about fundamental laws and legal procedures related to consumer protection. It could concentrate on the efficiency and ideal system of judiciary with  solutions. It may also look into the feasibility of making the law concrete and rigid in the case of crimes against women and down-trodden people. These are the real issues related to the Law Commission and it would not merely  concentrate on Article 370. There was no need for deferring the item of establishing Law Commission in the Cabinet. Obviously, this was done keeping in view the political gains in the forthcoming Assembly Elections that shows, in the lay-man’s view, the inevitability of political face that decides the fate of establishing any authority or commission by any Government.
(The author is Principal Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan Kot-Bhalwal Jammu)

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