Govt plans making Law Commission into a permanent body

Government plans to make Law Commission, which advises government on complex legal issues, into a permanent body, a move aimed at bringing continuity in its functioning.

New Delhi: Government plans to make Law Commission, which advises government on complex legal issues, into a permanent body, a move aimed at bringing continuity in its functioning.

At present the Union Cabinet re-constitutes the Commission every three years. After the Commission is reconstituted, a new Chairman and members are appointed to run the panel.

Deposing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel, Law Secretary PK Malhotra said, "Since the Law Commission is continuously functioning since 1959 and is reconstituted every three years, it is suggested that it be made a permanent body either by an Executive Order or by an Act of Parliament."

The Parliamentary panel was scrutinising the demands for grants of the Law Ministry.

If the law panel is converted into a permanent body by an Act of Parliament, it will become a statutory body. If it is made a permanent body by an executive order, it will be on the lines of the erstwhile Planning Commission or its new avatar Niti Aayog. Both were constituted by a resolution adopted by the Union Cabinet.

In 2010, the then UPA government had prepared a draft Cabinet note to give statutory status to the Law Commission and the Law Ministry had mooted to bring the Law Commission of India Bill, 2010. But the idea was perhaps shelved.

Sources in the Law Ministry said this will help the panel bring out more reports without compromising on quality as three years is a limited time. In its report submitted to Parliament last week, the standing committee expressed its concern at the slow pace at which decisions are taken by the government on reports of Law Commission. It recommended that recommendations of the law panel are decided upon preferably within a year of submission.

The reports of the Law Commission are considered by the Law Ministry in consultation with the administrative ministries concerned and are submitted to Parliament. They are cited in courts, in academic and public discourses but are not binding on the government.

The first such Commission was established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay which recommended codification of the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. The Indian Code of Civil Procedure, the Indian Contract Act, the Indian Evidence Act, the Transfer of Property Act are products of the first four Law Commissions.

Post Independence, there had been demands in Parliament and outside for establishing a Central Law Commission to recommend revision and updating of the inherited laws to serve the changing needs of the country. The First Law Commission of independent India was set up under the chairmanship of then Attorney General MC Setalvad.

The twentieth Law Commission was constituted for a period of three years with effect from September 1, 2012 up to December 31, 2015.

The successive Law Commissions have so far submitted 255 reports. Out of 255 reports, 91 reports have been implemented by the government and 15 reports have not been accepted. The remaining reports are under consideration of the various departments of the government.