Law Commission of India

Infobox Organization
name = Law Commission of India


image_border =
size =
caption =
motto = "Reforming the Law For Maximising Justice in Society and Promoting Good Governance under the Rule of Law"
formation = First 1834; Current 2006-09-01
type = Agency of Government of India
status = Ad hoc, term based
purpose = "Law Reform" in India
location = 2nd Floor, ILI Building, Bhagwandas Road, New Delhi - 110 001
membership = Chairman, 1 Permanent Member, 1 Member Secretary, and 6 Part-time Members
leader_title = Chairman
leader_name = Justice A. R. Lakshmanan
website = [http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/ www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in]
remarks =

Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform. It membership primarily comprises of legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government. The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The first Law Commission was established during the British regime in 1834 by the "Charter Act of 1833". After that three more Commissions were established in pre-independent India. The first Law Commission of indepedent India was established in 1955 for a three year term. Since then seventeen more Commissions have been established. The Eighteenth and the current Law Commission was established on 2006-09-01 under the Chairment of a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A. R. Lakshmanan. Its tenure has been fixed till 2009-08-31. Other than the Chairman, the Eighteenth Law Commission has one Permanent Member, one Member-Secretary and six Part-time Members.

Evolution of Law Commission in India

The origin of the first Law Commission of India lies in the diverse and often conflicting laws prevailing in the local regions and those administered by the East India Company, which was granted Royal Charters and also conferred powers by the various Indian rulers to administer and oversee the conduct of the inhabitants in the local areas where the Company exercised control. [ Cite book | author=Jain, M.P. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Outlines of Indian Legal History | date=1984 | publisher=N.M. Tripathi | location= Bombay | pages= ] During this period of administration by the Company, two sets of laws operated in the areas; one which applied to and in relation to British citizens and the second which applied to the local inhabitants and aliens. This was considered as a major stumbling block for proper administration by the British Government during the times which is now known as the British Raj. In order to improve the law and order situation and also to ensure uniformity of legal administration, various options were looked for. Until then the British Government had been passing various enactments to deal with particular situations (such as the Prohibition of Sati in 1829 by Lord William Bentinck under the influence of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. However it was for the first time in 1833 that the idea to establish a Law Commission for a comprehensive examination of the existing legal system prevailing in the British administered areas and its overhaul was instituted.

Pre-Independence Law Commissions of India

The First Law Commission was established in 1834 by the British Government under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay. cite web |url=http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#EARLY_BEGINNINGS: |title=EARLY BEGINNINGS |publisher=www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first= ] It suggested various enactments to the British Government, most of which were passed and enacted and are still in force in India. Few of the most importance recommendations made by this First Law Commission were those on, "Indian Penal Code" (first submitted in 1837 but enacted in 1860 and still in force), "Criminal Procedure Code" (enacted in 1898, repealed and succeeded by the "Criminal Procedure Code of 1973"), etc. Thereafter three more Law Commissions were established which made a number of other recommendations the "Indian Evidence Act" (1872) and "Indian Contract Act" (1872), etc. being some of the significant ones. The contribution of these Law Commissions can be enumerated as under;

Third Law Commission

The Third Law Commission was established in 1961 under the Chairmanship of Justice J. L. Kapur. It stayed in office till 1964. It presented the following reports [ cite web |url=http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Third_Law_Commission |title= Third Law Commission Reports |publisher=www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first= ] ;

ixth Law Commission

The Sixth Law Commission was established in 1971 under the Chairmanship of Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar. It stayed in office till 1979. It presented the following reports;

Ninth Law Commission

The Ninth Law Commission was established in 1979 under the Chairmanship of Justice P. V. Dixit. It stayed in office till 1980. It presented the following reports;

Twelfth Law Commission

The Twelfth Law Commission was established in 1988 under the Chairmanship of Justice M. P. Thakkar. It stayed in office till 1989. It presented the following reports;

Fifteenth Law Commission

The Fifteenth Law Commission was established in 1997 under the Chairmanship of Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy. It stayed in office till 2000. It presented the following reports [ cite web |url=http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Fifteenth_Law_Commission |title=Fifteenth Law Commission Reports
publisher=www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-08 |last= |first=
] ;

Eighteenth Law Commission

The incumbent Law Commission of India is Eighteenth in number and following the convention behind establishment of the Law Commissions in India, has been constituted for a three years tenure. It was constituted on 2006-09-01 by "Order No. A.45012/1/2006-Admn.III (LA) of the Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, New Delhi". Its tenure has been fixed till 2009-08-31. Unlike the previous Commissions, the Eighteenth Law Commission was constituted of just one permanent Members with the Commission has been empowered to employ the services of part-time Members or other academicians which it would deem proper for its working. Previously the trend had been to empanel a number of permanent members with a lesser number of part-time members.

Members

Justice M. Jagannadha Rao continued to serve as the Chairman of the Commission until 2007-05-28 on which date Justice A. R. Lakshmanan was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission. Currently, the membership of the Law Commission stands as follows; [ cite web |url=http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report205.pdf |title= Law Commission's 205th Report (page 3, Members of Commission) |publisher=lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first= ] [ cite web |url=http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report204.pdf |title= Law Commission's 204th Report (page 3, Members of Commission) |publisher=lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first= ]

Chairman (1)
# Justice A. R. Lakshmanan

Permanent Members (1)
# Prof. Dr. Tahir Mahmood.

Member-Secretary (1)
# Dr. D.P. Sharma (also serving as the Chief Executive of the Commission)

Part-Time Members (6)
# Justice I. Venkatanarayana
# Shri O.P. Sharma
# Dr. K.N. Chandrasekharan Pillai
# Dr. Mrs. Devinder Kumari Raheja
# Prof. Mrs. Lakshmi Jambholkar
# Smt. Kirti Singh

Research Staff (6)
# Ms. Pawan Sharma (Additional Government Counsel)
# Shri J.T. Sulaxan Rao (Additional Government Counsel)
# Shri Sarwan Kumar (Deputy Government Counsel)
# Shri A.K. Upadhyay (Assistant Government Counsel)
# Dr. V.K. Singh (Assistant Government Counsel)
# Shri C. Radha Kriahna (Assistant Government Counsel)

Terms of Reference

The Eighteenth Law Commission was entrusted with a nine-point "Terms of Reference". These relate to [ cite web |url=http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#THE%20SIXTEENTH%20LAW%20COMMISSION |title=Eighteenth Law Commission of India
publisher=www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first=
] ;
# Review and Repeal of obsolete laws;
# Law and poverty;
# Review of judicial administration system;
# Propose legislation implementing Directive Principles of State Policy;
# Review legislation to promote gender equality;
# Simplification of existing laws;
# Updating existing laws;
# Recommend on other areas it deems proper; and
# Provide research to foreign countries upon request by Ministry.

Reports

As of now, the Eighteenth Law Commission has submitted four reports to the Ministry of Law and Justice. These are;

Working of the Law Commission

The Law Commission works in close co-ordination and under the general instruction of Ministry of Law and Justice. It generally acts as the initiation point for law reform in the country. Internally, the Law Commission works in a research-oriented manner. Employing a number of research analysts (and even law students from 2007 [ cite web |url=http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/internship.htm |title= Student Internships at Law Commission
publisher=lawcommissionofindia.nic.in |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first=
] ), the Commission works upon the assigned agenda and primarily comes up with research based reports, often conclusive and recommendatory. The permanent members of the Commission generally are responsible for framing the exact topic and reference to work upon and often takes the services of eminent law experts and jurists who are familiar with the matter under review. These experts may either work part time with the Commission or may have been requested to contribute to specific reports or issues under review.

According to the Commission's website, the Commission's regular staff consists of about a dozen research personnel of different ranks and varied experiences with a small group of secretarial staff looks after the administration side of the Commission's operations cite web| url=http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#HOW_DOES_THE_COMMISSION_FUNCTION?| title= How does the Commission function? |publisher=www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in| accessdate=2008-06-12 |last= |first= ] and the internal functioning of the Commission can be described as a process with the following stages;
* Initiation of projects at the Commission's meetings;
* Discussion of priorities; identification of topics and assignment of preparatory work to Members;
* Adoption of methodologies for collection of data and research;
* Outlining of problems and determination of areas for reform;
* Consultations with public, professional bodies and academic institutions;
* Evaluation of responses and preparation of draft of report;
* Discussion and scrutiny of report, leading to its finalization; and
* Forwarding of report to the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Once the Report is submitted to the Ministry of Law and Justice, the task of the Commission ends unless it is required to rework upon identified areas of provide clarifications by the Government on the report submitted. Upon receipt of the Report, it is the responsible for follow-up action on the recommendations made by the Commission in the Report. Generally the Ministry of Law and Justice forwards the Report with its remarks to other relevant Ministries in the Government of India and seeks from them their opinion on the relevance of the recommendation and finalizes with them the manner of implemendation of these recommendations. When the proposals are cleared by the various Ministries and approved by the Cabinet, the Ministry of Law and Justice goes for drafting of the implementing legislation or follows the draft submitted by the Law Commission (which usually is the case) and presents the same for approval before the Parliament.

Role of Law Commission in Legal Reform in India

Law Commission of India, though an ad hoc body, has been a key instrumentality in the process of law reform in India. Its role has not only been advisory but also critical of the government policies and has been recognized by the Supreme Court of India and also the academia as pioneering and prospective. In a number of decisions the Supreme Court has referred to the work done by the Law Commission and followed its recommendations. The fact that the Chairman of the Law Commission is generally a retired Judge of the Supreme Court has only helped the prominence of the Commission. cite web |url=http://pib.nic.in/feature/fe1199/f2911991.html |title= Rarely seen or heard, Law Commission's work has a great impact |publisher= Press Information Bureau (India) |accessdate=2008-06-05 |last= |first= ]

There is no binding value of the recommendations of the Commission, for "they are recommendations. They may be accepted or rejected. Action on the said recommendations depends on the ministries/departments, which are concerned with the subject matter of the recommendations." [ cite web |url=http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jun/23rti.htm |title= Crores spent, yet obsolete laws live |publisher= www.rediff.com |accessdate=2008-09-01 |last= |first= ] This has resulted in a number of important and critical recommendations not being implemented. However the Commission has continued to work upon its assigned tasks.

The power vested in the Commission to "suo motu" take up matters for discussion and submit recommendations has also worked well to the advantage of the legal system in the country. The history of the Commission is replete with such recommendations which have been made in the wake of the hour and where the law has needed change. Further, the Commission has been often returned to review its earlier reports in the wake of changed scenarios and the aptness of law in such situations. Euthanasia and related issues, in particular, has been one such area where the Commission has been relook the situation at least three times, with the latest being its 196th report on the topic.

Besides the Law Ministry, the Commission has also been requested to work upon specific issues and submit its views by the Supreme Court on various occasions. The latest in regard has been the 205th Report of the Commission which has been prepared in view of the Supreme Court's request for assistance in determination of "certain legal issues relating to child marriage, and the different ages at which a person is defined as a child in different laws." The Report stirred a public debate in India for recommending "inter alia", a reduction in marriage age of boys to be at par with girls at 18, instead of the long continuing 21 and 18 respectively.

With all its past and present works being continuously provided on the internet, the Commission has also provided a firm assistance to legal research in the country. The fact that a number of its reports have been taken receptively by the various Ministries and have been worked upon to change the legal scenario, is itself an indicator sufficient enough of the role of the Commission in furtherance of law reform in India.

Notes

References

#Cite book | author=Jain, M.P. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Outlines of Indian Legal History | date=1984 | publisher=N.M. Tripathi | location= Bombay | pages= ASIN : B0000CQY04
#
#
#
#
#
#

ee also

* Law Commission
* Ministry of Law and Justice (India)
* Supreme Court of India
* Law reform
* Legal Education in India
* Autonomous law schools in India
* Common Law Admission Test
* List of law schools in India

External links

* [http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/ Official Website of the Law Commission of India]
* [http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports.htm Reports of Law Commission of India 1-50]
* [http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/51-100/index51-100.htm Reports of Law Commission of India 51-100]
* [http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/101-169/index101-169.htm Reports of Law Commission of India 101-169]
* [http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports.htm Reports of Law Commission of India 170-195]
* [http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#HOW_DOES_THE_COMMISSION_FUNCTION? How does Law Commission function?]
* [http://www.indlii.org/Law%20Commission%20of%20India.aspx Interview of Current Chairman of Law Commission]
* [http://lawmin.nic.in/ Ministry of Law and Justice (India)]
* [http://www.uea.ac.uk/~n180/lawcom.html Law Commissions of other countries]


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