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Year End Review of Ministry of Law & Justice

Apoorva Mandhani
4 Jan 2015 6:00 AM GMT
Year End Review of Ministry of Law & Justice
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  • Legal Reforms is the priority of the Department of Legal Affairs, which is envisaging decentralizing the availability of legal assistance to the Ministries/Departments by providing Indian Legal Service Officers in house in each of the Ministry/Department.
  • A National Litigation Policy to reduce the average pendency from 15 years to 3 years is also underway.
  • Further, based on the recommendations of the Law Commission of India, the Ministry has planned to introduce a Bill to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996, in the next session of the Parliament. The Union Cabinet, on 31st December, cleared an ordinance for bringing in amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, aimed at attracting international stakeholders for settling commercial disputes in India. Read the LiveLaw story
  • The Income Tax Administrative Tribunal proposals for filling up the colossal vacancies, is in its final stage.
  • Five additional posts of ASGs were created for the High Courts of Punjab and Haryana, Patna, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Gujarat for effective handling of Government litigation.  Appointments against these five posts are under process.
  • In order to take care of Government litigation in the Supreme Court as well, 209 Group A, 186 Group B and 101 Group C Panel Counsels were appointed. Panels for other courts/tribunals were under preparation.
  • The issue regarding setting up of Commercial Divisions in the High Courts has been pending with the Law Commission.

Legislative Department

The report submitted by the Ramanujam Committee is being examined. The Committee was constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August, to identify obsolete laws, which they believed were hampering governance by creating avoidable confusion. The Committee will be chaired by R. Ramanujam, Secretary in the PMO, V.K. Bhasin, former Secretary, Legislative Department, will be its other member.

  • A dedicated group of officers has been constituted to identify enactments and it categorized them:

  1. a) 637Acts to be repealed by Parliament;
  2. b)Acts to be repealed by the State Legislature;
  3. c)Acts to be repealed by Parliament in consultation with the State Governments;
  4. d)Acts relating to the State Reorganizations in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  5. e) 36 obsolete laws and 90 redundant laws have been identified and introduced in the Parliament for repeal. VariousAmendment Acts numbering about 200 are being examined (in consultation with the concerned Ministries/Departments) for their repeal.

  • Law Commission’s four (4) interim Reports (248thto 251st) on the “Obsolete Laws: Warranting immediate Repeal”, (which recommended for repeal of 72, 113, 74 and 30 obsolete Acts respectively) are also being processed. Read the LiveLaw coverage of the reports
  • A list of 902Appropriation Acts have been prepared including Railway Appropriation Acts and State Appropriation Acts and the opinion of the Attorney General is being sought on the repeal of State Appropriation Acts.
  • The proposals to pursue the Assam Legislative Council Bill, 2013 and the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council (Repeal) Bill, 2012 have been processed and approval is awaited.
  • On an average, 200 subordinate legislation proposals were received every month and scrutinized, vetted in a time bound manner.
  • 35 Reports of the Law Commission on various subject matters falling under Concurrent list are under examination in consultation with the State Governments/UTs.
  • Department is constituting two dedicated Groups one for English and one for Hindi, for updating all Central Acts placed on the website of the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • Department is administratively responsible for the Election Laws and the Election Commission.  On receipt of the Report of the Law Commission on Electoral Reforms, the proposal will be examined in consultation with the all the Stakeholders and the Political Parties on priority basis.
  • Department is effectively monitoring 218cases pending in Supreme Court and various High Courts as on 1st October, 2014 relating to Election Laws. Out of these 218 cases, Department is respondent in 137 cases and proforma party in the remaining 81

The Department of Justice:

  • The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill passed by the Parliament in August 2014 has received the assent from the President of India.
  • The strength of High Court Judges has been increased from 906to 984 to tackle the problem of pendency and backlog of cases in High Courts.  The Judges strength of High Courts of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab & Haryana was increased with effect from 1st July, 2014.  Subsequently, the Judges strength of High Courts of Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand was increased with effect from 14th October, 2014.
  • Financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 825 crores has been released to the States for improvement in judicial infrastructure, 2025 additional Court Rooms and 1699 additional residential units are under construction at present throughout the country.
  • The National Lok Adalats held by the judiciary on 6thDecember, 2014 disposed off 44 lakh cases pending in various Courts in the country which would bring down the pendency in the Courts.

You may get a snapshot of the Laws Enacted and Amended in 2014 here.

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