law commission reports
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In this article, Ayushma Sharma of Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University has discussed the Law Commission of India and the reports released by it.

Law Commission Meaning

The Law Commission is a commission established to ensure that the laws established are just and fair and that it works towards their implementation. The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Indian Government every three years. The Indian Constitution does not define a law commission but its formation can be seen as a way of implementing Article 39 A of the Indian Constitution which directs the State to ensure operation of the legal system promotes justice.

It can be referred to as an ad hoc body, which means it is constituted for the fulfilment of a particular purpose. Though the First law commission was created in 1834 during the British rule under the Charter Act of 1833, yet its original constitution is considered being in the year 1955, i.e., after the independence of India. Also, it advises some law reforms to the Ministry of Law and Order.

History of the Law Commission of India

Since the independence of India, i.e., after 1947 there have been twenty-one law commissions. The last commission was the 21st Law Commission of India which was established in September 2015 under the chairmanship of Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan, a former judge of the Supreme Court. Its term came to an end on August 2018. 

The 22nd Law Commission has yet to be formed. The first post-independence Law Commission of India was established in 1955 and was headed by Mr. M.C. Setalvad. It continued for three years, and it gave its last report in September 1958. Some of its reports were related to the Income Tax Act, 1922, Partnership Act, 1932, Sale of Goods Act,1930 and Registration Act, 1908. Some law commissions were also established during the British Rule. 

The first pre-independence law commission was established in 1834 through the Charter Act of 1833, and Lord Macaulay was the head of this law commission. After this, three more law commissions were acknowledged in the year 1853, 1861 and 1879.

How Law Commission is established?

A law commission is created when the central government passes a resolution for the formation of a new law commission after the expiry of the previous one. After the resolution is passed, and the President gives his assent to it, the government has the liberty to choose the chairman of the new commission formed.

After seeing the tradition followed in the previous commissions, it can be concluded that it is always a former judge of the Supreme Court who heads the commission.

What is the  composition of the Law Commission?

A law commission comprises legal experts appointed by the Central Government to promote justice in society. The government either makes a remark about an issue or the commission suomoto (on its own motion) takes an issue and starts working on it. 

Generally, a law commission consists of:

  1. One chairman
  2. One permanent member
  3. One member secretary
  4. Six part-time members

The last law commission, i.e., the 21st Law Commission composition, was as follows:

  1. A full-time chairman
  2. Four full-time members (including a member secretary)
  3. Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as an ex officio member 
  4. Secretary, Legislative Department as an ex officio member
  5. Not more than five permanent members

According to the Law Commission of India, the staff is divided into two parts, one part is the research panel holding different positions while the other part is the secretarial staff looking after the Commission’s administrative work.

The term fixed for the law commission is five years and suggests reforms to the Ministry of Law and Justice. 

Importance of law commission

Sometimes only making laws is not sufficient, some authority must be there to check its implementation, to check if it’s actually beneficial for the society, or are there any flaws which are to be corrected, or are the laws required beyond a particular period, or if a law needs to be repealed. An authority has to be there to check all these situations.

So, law commission covers all these cases so that it can, along with the Ministry of Law and Justice, ensure that peace prevails in the society and justice is being delivered to people.

The Indian Constitution does not say anything about the formation of law commission or what it actually is. But at some places, it makes an indication of the existence of some authority that would ensure the promotion of justice, like in Part III and IV of the constitution i.e., Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy respectively.

As per Article 39 A of the Indian Constitution, it state’s duty to promote justice by providing equal opportunities, free legal aid through suitable schemes. The State has to ensure that justice is not denied to any on the basis of any disability.  

In a way, the main reason behind the formation of the law commission is the directions issued by Article 39 A. Also, as per Article 372  it was necessary that some authority existed to repeal, amend and revise laws, and to see if they are actually required.

It is necessary to keep pace with the changing needs of the time, and that can be possible only if someone is there to keep themselves updated. 

Evolution of law commission in India

At the time of British Raj, the authorities had to deal with two sets of law: the local laws and the laws introduced by the Britishers. In the case of local laws, the old customs and traditions become laws, and the new British laws were mainly focused on increasing their control and power in the areas they exercised their rule.

Having two different sets of rules and regulations created a setback for them to run a proper administration. There was no uniformity in laws, and at some point of time they became contradictory to each other. 

People then started looking for various options through which the issue could be resolved. Later on, it was decided that a commission should be set up to enhance the uniformity in laws. Thus, a law commission was established in 1834 through the Charter Act of 1833

The commission had the liberty to interpret laws, and in case of default it could introduce the required changes in it.

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Pre-independence law commission in India 

Before the independence of India, laws were derived from the previous customs and traditions. There was no authority to check their legality and authenticity. Also, having laws running in two different directions created a hindrance in running the administration.

So, law commissions were set up to boost the legal system of India.

Following are the law commissions that were introduced before the independence of India, including the reports prepared by them.

 

First Law Commission

Second Law Commission

Third Law Commission

Fourth Law Commission

Established

1834

1853

1861

1879

Chairman 

Lord Macaulay

Sir John Romilly

Sir John Romilly

Sir Whitley Stokes

Members 

  1. J.M. Macleod
  2. G.W. Anderson
  3. F. Millet 
  1. Sir Lord Jervis
  2. Sir Edward Ryan
  3. R. Lowe
  4. J.M. Macleod
  5. C.H. Cameron
  6. T.E. Ellis

Initially,

  1. Sir Edward Ryan
  2. R. Lowe
  3. J.M. Macleod
  4. Sir W. Erle
  5. Justice Wills

Subsequently,

  1. Sir Edward Ryan
  2. R. Lowe
  3. J.M. Macleod
  4. Sir W.M. James
  5. Justice HendersSuccession on

Later, Justice Lush succeeded Justice Henderson.

  1. Sir Charles Turner
  2. Raymond West

Reports

  1. Penal Code (2 May 1837)
  2. Lex loci (role and authority of English law in India) 31 October 1840 
  1. Code of Civil Procedure and Law of Limitation (1859)
  2. Penal Code 1860
  3. Code of Criminal Procedure (1861)
  1. A code for and inheritance for Indians other than Hindus and Muslims 1865
  2. Draft Contract Law (1866)
  3. Draft Negotiable Instruments Law (1867)
  4. Draft Evidence Law (1868)
  5. Revision of Code of Criminal Procedure (1870)
  6. Draft Transfer of Property Law (1870)
  7. Draft Code on Insurance (1871)
  1. Code of Negotiable Instruments (1881)
  2. Code of Trusts Law (1882)
  3. Code on Transfer of Property and Easements (1882)
  4. Revised Code of Criminal Procedure (1882)
  5. Revised Code of Civil Procedure (1882)

Law Commission in independent India 

India, after its independence, faced a new phase of legal system. This time the focus was on improving the legal system of India. India was declared a Democratic country, laws were now made from a perspective that kept public interest and welfare at top.

Therefore, when Article 372 stated that the previous laws (pre-constitutional laws) would be followed until replaced or repealed,  law commissions were established so keep laws in check.

Following are the post independence law commissions that have been established so far.

  •  First Law Commission 

Duration – 1955-1958

Chairman – Mr. M.C. Setalvad

Number of Reports presented – 14

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of Presentation

1

Liability of the State in Tort

1956

2

Parliamentary Legislation relating to Sales Tax

1956

3

Limitation Act, 1908

1956

4

On the proposal that High Courts should sit in Benches at different places in a State

1956

5

British Statutes applicable to India 

1957

6

Registration Act, 1908

1957

7

Partnership Act, 1932

1957

8

Sales of Goods Act, 1930

1958

9

Specific Relief Act, 1877

1958

10

Law of Acquisition and Requisitioning of Law

1958

11

Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881

1958

12

Income Tax Act, 1922

1958

13

Contract Act, 1872

1958

14

Reform of Judicial Administration

1958

  • Second Law Commission 

Duration – 1958-1961

Chairman – Justice T.V. Venkatarama Aiyar

Number of Reports – 08

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of Presentation

15

Law relating to Marriage and Divorce amongst Christians in India

1960

16

Official Trustees Act, 1913

1960

17

Report on Trusts Act, 1882

1961

18

Marriage Dissolution Act, 1866

1961

19

Administrator-General’s Act, 1913

1961

20

Law of Hire-Purchase 1961 Marine Insurance

1961

21

Marine Insurance

1961

22

Christian Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill, 1961

1961

  • Third Law Commission 

Duration – 1961-1964

Chairman – Justice J.L. Kapur

Number of Reports – 06

Report Number 

Name of the Report 

Year of Presentation

23

Law of Foreign Marriages

1962

24

The Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952

1962

25

Evidence of Officers about forged stamps, currency notes, etc. Section 509-A Cr.P.C. as proposed

1963

26

Insolvency Laws

1964

27

The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

1964

28

The Indian Oaths Act, 1873

1964

  • Fourth Law Commission 

Duration – 1964-1968

Chairman – Justice J.L. Kapur

Number of Reports – 10

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of Presentation

29

Proposal to include certain Social and Economic Offences in the Indian Penal Code, 1860

1967

30

Section 5 of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, taxation by the States in the course of import

1967

31

Section 30(2) of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 – Extension to Delhi

1967

32

Section 9 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898

1967

33

Section 44 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898

1967

34

Indian Registration Act, 1908

1967

35

Capital Punishment

1967

36

Section 497, 498 and 499 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898

1967

37

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898

1967

38

Indian Post Office Act, 1898

1968

  • Fifth Law Commission 

Duration – 1968-1971

Chairman – Mr. K.V.K. Sundaram

Number of Reports – 06

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of  Presentation 

39

Punishment for imprisonment for life under the Indian Penal Code

1968

40

Law relating to attendance of Prisoners in Courts

1969

41

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898

1969

42

Indian Penal Code

1971

43

Offences against the National Security

1971

44

The Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in Civil Matters

1971

  • Sixth Law Commission 

Duration – 1971-1974

Chairman – Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar

Number of Reports – 17

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of Presentation

45

Civil Appeals to the Supreme Court on a Certificate of Fitness

1971

46

The Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Bill, 1971

1971

47

The trial and punishment of Social and Economic Offences

1972

48

Some questions under the Code of Criminal Procedure Bill, 1970

1972

49

The proposal for inclusion of agricultural income in the total income

1972

50

The proposal to include persons connected with the Public examination within the definition of ‘Public Servant’

1972

51

Compensation of injuries caused by automobiles in hit-and-run cases

1972

52

Estate duty on property acquired after death

1972

53

Effect of the Pensions Act, 1871 on the right to sue for pensions of retired members of public service

1972

54

The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

1973

55

Rate of Interest after decree and interest on costs under Section 34 and 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

1973

56

Statutory Provision as to the Notice of Suit other than Section 80, Civil Procedure Code, 1908

1973

57

Benami Transactions

1973

58

Stature and Jurisdiction of the Higher Judiciary

1974

59

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Special Marriage Act, 1954

1974

60

The General Clauses Act, 1897

1974

61

Certain problems with the power of the States to levy a tax on the sale of goods

1974

  • Seventh Law Commission 

Duration – 1974-1977

Chairman – Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar

Number of Reports – 09

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of  Presentation 

62

Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923

1974

63

The Interest Act, 1839

1975

64

The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956

1975

65

Recognition of Foreign Divorces

1976

66

Married Women’s Property Act, 1874

1976

67

The Indian Stamp Act, 1899

1977

68

The Power of Attorney Act, 1882

1977

69

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

1977

70

The Transfer of Property Act, 1882

1977

  • Eight Law Commission 

Duration – 1977-1979

Chairman – Justice H.R. Khanna 

Number of Reports – 10

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year  of Presentation

71

Irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce

1978

72

Restriction on practice after being a permanent judge

1978

73

Criminal liability for failure by husband to pay maintenance or permanent alimony granted to the wife

1978

74

Proposal to amend the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to render Admissible certain statements made by witnesses before Commissions of Inquiry and other Statutory Authorities

1978

75

Disciplinary jurisdiction under the Advocates Act, 1961

1978

76

Arbitration Act, 1940

1978

77

Delay and arrears in trial courts

1979

78

Congestion of under trial persons in jails

1979

79

Delays and arrears in High Courts and other Appellate Courts

1979

80

Method of Appointment of Judges

1979

  • Ninth Law Commission 

Duration – 1979-1980

Chairman – Justice P.V. Dixit 

Number of Reports – 07

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year  of Presentation

81

Hindu Widows Remarriage Act, 1856

1979

82

Effect of nomination under Section 39, Insurance Act, 1938

1980

83

The Guardian and Wards Act, 1890

1980

84

Rape and allied offences-some questions of substantive law, procedure and evidence

1980

85

Claims for compensation under Chapter 8 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939

1980

86

The Partition Act, 1893

1980

87

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920

1980

  • Tenth Law Commission 

Duration – 1981-1985

Chairman – Justice K.K. Mathew

Number of Reports – 26

Report Number 

Name of the Report

Year of Presentation

88

Governmental Privileges in Evidence

1983

89

The Limitation Act, 1963

1983

90

The Grounds for Divorce amongst Christians in India

1983

91

Dowry deaths and law reform

1983

92

Damages in applications for Judicial Review Recommendations for legislation

1983

93

Disclosures of sources of information by mass media

1983

94

Evidence obtained illegally or improperly

1983

95

Constitutional Division within Supreme Court

1984

96

Repeal of certain obsolete Central Acts

1984

97

Section 28 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872: prescriptive clauses in contracts

1984

98

Sections 24 to 26 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

1984

99

Oral and written arguments in the Higher courts

1984

100

Litigation by and against the Government

1984

101

Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19 of the Constitution

1984

102

Section 122(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

1984

103

Unfair Terms in contracts

1984

104

The Judicial Officers’ Protection Act, 1850

1984

105

Quality control and inspection of consumer goods

1984

106

Section 103A, Motor Vehicles Act, 1939

1984

107

Law of Citizenship

1984

108

Promissory Estoppel

1984

109

Obscene and Indecent Advertisements and Displays

1985

110

Indian Succession Act, 1925

1985

111

Fatal Incidents Act, 1955

1985

112

Section 45 of the Insurance Act, 1938

1985

113

Injuries in Police Custody

1985

  • Eleventh Law Commission 

Duration – 1985-1988

Chairman – Justice D.A. Desai 

Number of Reports – 18

To see the reports presened by the Eleventh Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Eleventh_Law_Commission

  • Twelfth Law Commission 

 Duration – 1988-1989 

Chairman – Manharlal Pranlal Thakkar 

Number of Reports – 12

Report Number 

Name of the Report 

Year of Presentation 

132

Need for Amendment of the Provisions of Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in order to ameliorate the hardship and mitigate the distress of Neglected Women, Children and Parents

1989

133

Removal of Discrimination against Women in matters relating to Guardianship and Custody of Minor Children and Elaboration of the Welfare Principle

1989

134

Removing Deficiencies in certain Provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923

1989

135

Women in Custody

1989

136

Conflicts in High Court Decisions on Central Laws- How to foreclose and how to resolve

1990

137

Need for creating office of Ombudsman and for evolving legislative administrative measures inter alia to relieve hardships caused by inordinate delays in settling Provident Fund claims of beneficiaries

1990

138

Legislative Protection for Slum and Pavement Dwellers

1990

139

Urgent need to amend Order XXI, Rule 92(2), Code of Civil Procedure to remove an anomaly which nullifies the benevolent intention of the legislature and occasions injustice to judgement-debtors sought to be benefited

1991

140

Need to amend Order V, Rule 19A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, relating to service of summons by registered post with a view to foreclose likely injustice

1991

141

Need for amending the law as regards power of courts to restore criminal revisional applications and criminal cases dismissed for default in appearance

1991

142

Concessional treatment for offenders who on their own initiative choose to plead guilty without any bargaining

1991

143

Legislative safeguards for protecting the small depositors from exploitation

1991

  • Thirteenth Law Commission 

Duration – 1991-1994

Chairman – Justice K.N. Singh 

Number of Reports – 10

To see the reports presented by the Thirteenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Thirteenth_Law_Commission

  • Fourteenth Law Commission 

Duration – 1995-1997

Chairman – Justice K. Jayachandra Reddy 

Number of Reports – 03

To see the reports presented by the Fourteenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Fourteenth_Law_Commission

  • Fifteenth Law Commission 

Duration – 1997-2000

Chairman – Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy

Number of Reports – 18

To see the reports presented by the Fifteenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Fifteenth_Law_Commission

  • Sixteenth Law Commission 

Duration – 2000-2003

Chairman – Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy (from 2000 to 2001)

                   Justice M. Jagannadha Rao (from 2002 to 2003)

Number of Reports – 11

To see the reports presented by the Sixteenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Sixteenth_Law_Commission

  • Seventeenth Law Commission 

Duration – 2003-2006

Chairman – Justice M. Jagannadha Rao

Number of Reports – 16       

To see the reports presented by the Seventeenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Seventeenth_Law_Commission

  • Eighteenth Law Commission 

Duration – 2006-2009

Chairman – Justice M. Jagannadha Rao (from 2006 to 2007)

                   Justice A. R. Lakshmanan (from2007 to 2009)

Number of Reports – 33

To see the reports presented by the Eighteenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Eighteenth_Law_Commission

  • Nineteenth Law Commission 

Duration – 2009-2012

Chairman – Mr. Justice P.V. Reddi

Number of Reports – 09

To see the reports presented by the Nineteenth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Ninteenth_Law_Commission

  • Twentieth Law Commission 

Duration – 2013-2015

Chairman – Justice D.K. Jain (from Jan 2013 to Oct 2013)

                   Justice A.P. Shah (from 2013 to 2015)

Number of Reports – 19

To see the reports presented by the Twentieth Law Commission of India click here

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#Twentieth_Law_Commission

  • Twenty-First Law Commission 

Duration – 2015-2018

Chairman – Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan 

Number of Reports – 15

Report Number 

Name of the Report 

Year of Presentation 

263

The Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill

2016

264

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill (Provisions dealing with Food Adulteration)

2017

265

Prospects of Exempting Income arising out of Maintenance Money of ‘Minor’

2017

266

The Advocates Act, 1961 (Regulation of the Legal Profession)

2017

267

Hate Speech

2017

268

Amendments to Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 – Provisions Relating to Bail

2017

269

House-keeping of egg-laying hens

2017

270

Compulsory Registration of Marriages

2017

271

Human DNA Profiling

2017

272

Assessment of Statutory Framework of Tribunals in India

2017

273

Implementation of United Nations Convention Against Torture

2017

274

Review of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971

2018

275

Legal Framework: BCCI vis-à-vis Right to Information Act, 2005

2018

276

Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting Including Cricket in India

2018

277

Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies

2018

 

For all the reports released by Law Commission of India click here 

http://www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/main.htm#a7

http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/

  • Twenty-Two Law Commission 

After the expiration of 21st Law Commission on 31st August 2018, now it’s time for 22nd Law Commission. But even after a period of 10 months, the 22nd Commission hasn’t been formed yet. At such a crucial time where  21st Commission has released important reports it was expected that the next commission would carry on the work from where it was left off.

According to some media reports, the Law Ministry has approved the proposition of installing a new commission but it is the Cabinet (government) who hasn’t taken any action towards its installation. So as of now, India has had twenty one law commissions until 22nd Law Commission is established.

Some of the important Law Commission reports

Electoral Disqualifications (244th Report)

The twentieth Law Commission of India submitted its report on Electoral Disqualifications to the Ministry of Law and Justice on 24th February 2014. The reports state the guidelines that were issued by the Supreme Court in one of the cases of Public Interest Litigation filed by the NGO Public Interest Foundation. The case was related to the decriminalisation of politics. The report dealt with two main issues. They are:

  • Disqualification of the candidates having a criminal background
  • Repercussions of filing false affidavits

Following are some of the important suggestions that were mentioned in the report:

  • The commission analysed the various levels at which disqualification can take place.
  • The introduction of effective laws that would truly help in curbing criminalization of politics because generally, the laws do not work effectively resulting in long trials and rare convictions.
  • The commission examined the different stages at which the charges can be framed.
  • The commission observed that while filing a First Information Report (FIR) there is no applicability of legal mind, so, therefore, it can not be considered as an effective stage to convict someone, thus, resulting in disqualification.
  • In order to prevent the criminalisation of politics it is necessary that the procedures involved various levels of conviction are implemented adequately. Therefore, adequate safeguards should also be implemented.

The Commission also suggested some reforms at the stage of framing charges:

  • Safeguards that ensure prevention of misuse of provisions and in case of any lack of redressal some remedies should be there.
  • The offences that involve a maximum punishment of five years or above will be incorporated within this provision.
  • If charges are filed in less than one year from the date of scrutiny of nominations for an election will not result in disqualification.
  • The charge of disqualification will not be removed unless acquitted by the court, or a term of six years, whichever is earlier.
  • If the charges are framed against sitting MP or MLA, then, the case must be resolved as soon as possible, i.e., within one year.
  • If the case is not resolved within one year, then, the said MP or MLA will be disqualified after the one period comes to an end. Also, the right to vote of MP or MLA in the parliament, or the State Assembly respectively, salary, and other benefits will be suspended.
  • This provision for charging the person will be applied retroactively.

When false affidavits are used as a ground for disqualification the Representation of the People Act, 1951 must be modified to introduce the following changes:

  • The grounds of disqualification would be used to convict a person for filing false affidavits.
  • Increase in the term of imprisonment, i.e., from a minimum period of six months to a maximum period of two years.
  • This offence of filing false affidavits should be regarded as a ‘corrupt practice’ under the Act.
  • Also, proceedings should be held on a daily basis and adding a gap of one which would give sufficient time to raise a complaint on nomination papers. The gap is supposed to be added in between the last date of filing nomination and the date of scrutiny.

Electoral Reforms (255th Report)

The law commission of India submitted its report number 255 on ‘Electoral Reforms’ in March 2015. The report was submitted to the Ministry of Law and Justice. The Ministry of Law and Justice, in January 2013, requested the Twentieth Law Commission to suggest some methods that must be introduced in ‘Electoral Reforms’ to make it more effective. 

The report has mentioned various issues, like, the amendment in the Indian Constitution, Election Rules, Representation of the People Act, 1951 and many other laws. The summary of the report is as follows:

  • Election Finance – 
  • The first issue that was pointed out by the Commission is the extension of the period for the expenses incurred in the election by the candidate from the date of notification of election to the date of declaration of results. Initially, it was from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of results.
  • Amending of section 182(1) of the Companies Act, 2013 which ensure the transfer of contribution from the company’s funds to a political party at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) instead of its Board of Directors.
  • Insertion of new section 77A that would ensure that the required candidates or the authorized agents maintain an account in which they will have to disclose the particulars related to, any individual contribution received by the party from any source except the Government and company or any amount paid by the party from the date of notification of elections.
  • Adding new section 78A which would make sure that the District Election Officer would upload the expenditure reports presented by each participating candidate under section 78.
  • Inserting new section 29E in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Election Commission of India because of the new provision would upload the contributions made by the participating political parties under section 29D on its official website or the file for public inspection.
  • A new section would be inserted that would penalize the violation of section 29B, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and section 182 of the Companies Act in matters related to admitting donations coming from donors who are not permissible. The penalty would be charging five times the amount so accepted. This new provision would come under section 29H. 
  • Regulation of Political Parties and Inner Party Democracy –
  • The Commission suggests modifying of section 29A (5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Through this modification, the parties would assure not to instigate violence for political gains, and will not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, sex, race, religion, gender, language and place of residence.
  • A new chapter, Chapter IVC would be added which will deal with ‘Regulation of Public Parties’  and also, including recommendations made by the Law Commission in its 170th Report with some modifications. 
  • Section 29R will also be added to the same part which will provide for de-registration of a political party who failed consecutively for the past ten  years in Parliament and State Elections.
  • Proportional Representation –   

The Electoral system has two aspects, i.e., the proportional representation and the first-past-first-post electoral system. If any change will be introduced in the electoral system in India it would result in a hybrid electoral will also, somehow, find its way in India, including both direct and indirect elections. It would have happened then it would create problems for the Indian electoral system since seats in the Lok Sabha would have increased. This would raise concerns regarding its effective functioning. 

Therefore, the Commission, on the basis of the observations made by the Law Commission in its 170th Report about the proportional electoral system, asked for the reconsideration of the proposals recommended in 170th Report, to see if they were in consonance with the Indian circumstances.

  • Anti-defection Law in India – 

The Law Commission also recommended some changes in the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution would provide power to the President or the Governor, as the case may be, on the issue of disqualification on the ground of defection. The President and the Governor will have to act on the advice of the Election Commission of India.

  • Strengthening the office of the Election Commission of India – 
  • To ensure equal protection in case of the removal procedure to the members of the Election Commission of India, the Law Commission recommended the amendment of Article 342(5) of the Indian Constitution.
  • It laid down a new procedure for appointing the members of the Election Commission. According to the observations of the Law Commission, a collegium was to be formed consisting of three members, the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. This collegium after consulting the President would appoint the members of the Election Commission. The basis on which the members will be appointed will depend on the seniority unless the collegium finds such senior candidate unfit for the position. The Amendment was supposed to be made in the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 to show the necessary changes.
  • Under Article 324 of the Constitution, a new sub-clause 2A was to be added to set up separate independent and permanent Secretariat for the Election Commission of India alongside the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats under Article 98 of the Indian Constitution. It was thought that this step would make the Election Commission of India more independent.
  • Paid News and Political Advertisements – 
  • In section 2 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 the words, ‘paying for news’, ‘receiving payment for news’ and ‘political advertisement’. 
  • In order to prevent disguised political advertisement, provisions that would disclose all the necessary information were to be made mandatory in all forms of media. The term ‘disclose’, here, covers two aspects, first to assist people in identifying the nature of the content and second, to keep a record of all the transactions that are taking place between the media and the candidate. This whole step was to be incorporated by inserting section 127C in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • Opinion Polls –
  • The ban on opinion polls, for presenting any election matter forty-eight hours before the starting of the poll is restricted by the means of ‘cinematograph, television or any other electronic media, did not include print media and section 126(1). Therefore, it was to be amended to avoid any publication, publicity on any matter related to the election.
  • It is necessary to control the activities of the opinion polls for many reasons. First one is to ensure that the public is aware about authenticity of the methods of conducting the poll, second, because it is important to inform the public about the credentials of the organisation which is organising the poll, thirdly, to tell the public that the predictions made in opinion polls are not absolute and that they might change in the future.
  • Insertion of section 126C and 126D in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • Compulsory Voting – 

The Law Commission was of the opinion that introducing rule of compulsory voting would not be a right decision. It had listed reasons for not implementing this rule of compulsory voting, it includes an increase in expenditure, unaffordability of conducting it, difficult to implement, etc.

  • Election Petitions –

Many reforms were suggested for Part- VI of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals with ‘disputes regarding elections’. These include:

  • Extension of ‘election benches’ in every High Court. It will be designated by the Chief Justice of that particular High Court and its jurisdiction will be over to all the election cases in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. 
  • The procedure for presenting the petitions should be made more transparent, clear and easy. 
  • Expedition of the trial of petitions before the concerned High Court.
  • The conclusion of the trial should be done within the prescribed time limit, i.e., six months from the date the petition was presented, and if in case, it gets delayed then, a report should be submitted before the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court stating the reason of delay.
  • The order regarding the case should be passed by the election bench within ninety days from the conclusion of the arguments. It should be done under section 98 of the Act.
  • Adding of new section 98A in the Act of 1951. 
  • The appeals before the Supreme Court will only lie when the case raises the question of law. Initially, it was permissible to file an appeal when it was the question of law or fact. 
  • The appeal before the Supreme Court is to be filed within 30 days from the date of the judgment delivered by the High Court. The Supreme Court has to conclude the appeal within three months from the date of appeal.
  • NOTA and the Right to reject –

The Law Commission did not support the idea of introducing the option ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) in the election. The Commission believed that the idea behind NOTA is to ensure good governance which can also be achieved by imposing new regulations in the political system. 

  • The Right to recall – 

The Commission believed that introducing the right to recall will reduce the independence of the contesting candidates. Therefore, it suggested not to impose ‘right to recall’.

  • Restrictions on the Government Sponsored Advertisements –
  • The Commission recommended regulating the publishing of advertisements sponsored by the government six months before the expiration of House or the Assembly to uphold the principle of ‘fair elections’.
  • It recommended inserting new Chapter VIIB in Part V of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which would prohibit the government-sponsored advertisements in  print and electronic media six months before the date of expiry of the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. 
  • Restriction on the number of seats from which a candidate may contest –
  • The Law Commission suggested amending section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. This section permitted the candidate to contest in any election from up to two constituencies. They wanted to amend this section by allowing candidates to contest in any election from one constituency only.
  • Independent Candidates –
  • The Commission suggested to amend section 4 and 5 under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to permit only those parties which are registered under  Election Commission of India as per section 11(4) to contest Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections.
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Wrongful Prosecution (277th Report)

The Delhi High Court in Babloo Chauhan Dbloo v. State Government of NCT Delhi [1] observed the lack of any legislative reforms in cases where an innocent is prosecuted for a crime that he has not committed. The Court said that it is need of the hour to have a legislative framework to dispense some relief and rehabilitation to the victims who have been wrongfully prosecuted. The Law Commission was asked to examine the matter and come up with some suggestions for the same.

The International Law, too, recommends the States to lay down some laws that would ensure some kind of compensation to the victims of wrongful prosecution. When an innocent person is convicted for a crime he hasn’t committed, and then, later on, it is revealed that he was innocent it results in miscarriage of justice. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a signatory puts an obligation on all its signatories to make laws that would compensate the innocents who suffered from the hands of the law. The Law Commission prepared the report from the point of view of the criminal justice system in India. It stated wrongful prosecution as the standard of a miscarriage of justice. According to the report ‘wrongful prosecution’ will include cases where:

  • The accused was not guilty of the offence and the prosecution or the police were in some kind of misconduct.
  • The person had to spend his time in jail or in cases where he did not.
  • The Trial Court found that the accused was not guilty of the offence.
  • More than one courts convicted the accused of the offence but the Higher Court found him not guilty of the offence.

The Law Commission, in this report, gave an outline of the reliefs available in the existing laws and tells how they are inadequate. It makes some recommendations regarding the enactment of some specific laws that would only deal with such types of cases. These laws would provide remedies to the victims in terms of monetary as well as non-monetary compensation where non-monetary compensation will include health services (both physical and mental), employment skills, developmental skills, counselling, etc. The main features of the report include:

  • Definition of wrongful prosecution.
  • Filing an application for compensation.
  • An existence of ‘Special Court’ in aiding these cases.
  • Financial and all other factors in calculating the compensation to be provided.

A Bill was drafted expressing the above-mentioned provisions was attached with the Report as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Review of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (185th Report)

The Sixteenth Law Commission, in 2003, submitted a report related to the review of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Though, Law Commission had earlier also submitted a report in relation to the Indian Evidence Act,1872 which wasn’t considered. The Law Commission was asked to re-examine the 69th Report and other reports.

The recommendations made by the law commission were as follows:

  • The Commission did not recommend anything related to the definition of the Court. In its 69th Report, the commission suggested to include revenue courts and tribunals within the definition of the court, thus, the provisions of the Act but the Government had rejected the recommendation.
  • Though the Law Commission agreed that the definition of the document included everything but with the advancement in the technology and law it decided to broaden its aspect. The definition of document mentioned in the Indian Evidence Act after its amendment and adding of section 65A and 65B of the included electronic records also. The Commission observed that the evidence produced by the computer should be treated similar to other records though the preference must be given to its authenticity and the parties will have to information regarding the security of their computer system. 
  • The Law Commission recommended that the specifically mentioning DNA as a piece of evidence under the Act was not necessary especially after the judgment of the Supreme Court in Kamta Devi v. Poshi Ram. In this case, the Court held that the DNA as an evidence is not admissible when there is an assumption provided by law. Nevertheless, the Commission did not object an act where a party submits DNA evidence and in case of refusal on the part of the party to submit DNA, no suggestion was made. It would be on the discretion of the Court to decide the matter. 
  • In case of admission of evidence, the Commission of suggested changes in section 10 of the Act. In order to, avoid any contrary inference the Commission proposed the replacement of the words ‘with reference to’ with ‘in furtherance of’.
  • In order to put an end to the controversy on section 13 of the Act, the Commission explained section 13. The Commission observed that:
  • Judgments not inter-parties can be admitted as ‘transactions’ under section13(a), and;
  • Documents recitals including recitals related to boundaries of immovable parties will be relevant irrespective of the fact that it is between the same parties or not.
  • Section 23 of the Act was analysed and some changes were recommended. This deals with admission in civil cases. Section 23 when read with section 126 means exclusion of those admissions to which both the parties have agreed to be used as evidence. Its purpose is to uphold public policy and ensure that parties resolve disputes peacefully without approaching any court. The Commission proposed that:
  • Such evidence can be admitted with the parties’ mutual consent.
  • The third-party, even after being affected by the actions of the disputing parties cannot use such as evidence.
  • Admission of evidence becomes important to determine whether a settlement was there or to answer the question of delay.
  • Section 24 of the Act deals with confessions obtained by threat, or inducement, or promise. The Commission suggested adding grounds to this section like violence, coercion and torture to reject confessions obtained under such circumstances.
  • After the Supreme Court gave its judgment in U.P v. Ramesh Prasad Mishra, the Court recommended statement determining the cause of the death (motive) should be made admissible in court. It was recommended under Section 32(1) of the Act which deals with dying declaration.
  • Insertion of section 53A was proposed by the Law Commission to ensure the protection of women at workplaces.
  • To strengthen the spirit of the provision of reliance on the evidence a group of experts is there. The Commission added more experts to help the court in deciding the cases on the basis of evidence. These experts will deal with footprints, palm impressions, foreign law, trade, type writings, etc.
  • The Commission expressed its concern on the divergence between the definition of secondary evidence in section 63 and clauses of section 65 from clause (b) to clause (g). it was observed that these clauses didn’t fall within the ambit of secondary evidence but still were admissible in courts. So, in order to make it right it proposed recreation of section 63 by redefining it.
  • The principles like estoppel, res judicata, etc which were enumerated in the Act did not have any defect in them. Therefore, it was recommended not to introduce any changes in them.
  • The Commission put forward the rephrasing of section 90 and introducing it with section 90A which will deal with matters related to documents which are more than 20 years old. A different would be there for other documents. This allowed the court to raise a presumption regarding the documents. So, in cases where the documents could not be determined, the court could make an assumption and carry on with the proceedings.
  • The Law Commission recommended amending of section 112 of the Act in which presumption regarding the paternity of the child would be dealt with and DNA would formally be admitted in the Indian Evidence Act, even though it was Supreme Court refused to admit DNA as a piece of evidence in Kamta Devi v. Poshi Ram.
  • The Law Commission examined section 27 also which deals with relevancy of any important information. It is considered to be an important provision of the Act. The Commission made the following recommendations:
  • That the section 27 creates a restriction for section 26
  • That the section 27 acts as an exception to 25
  • In order to make section 27 peculiarly an exception to both the sections i.e., section 25 and section 26 it is necessary to replace comma with the word ‘or’ in “from a person accused of any offence, in the custody of the police officer”.
  • Section 27 should be put in another way to eliminate the statements acquired by inducement, threat, etc as it is provided under section 24 of the Act. 

Trial by Media (200th Report)

The Law Commission submitted its 200th Report on Trial by Media in the year 2006. It recommended a legislative limitation on the media to report anything which could be detrimental to the accused’s rights in any criminal case. The media cannot report the said information from the date of arrest to the investigation and trial, basically till the judgment. According to the Law Commission, the reports presented by media have a prejudicial effect on the whole judiciary system. Therefore, imposing reasonable restrictions was necessary to avoid criminal contempt of court. 

It proposed the amendment of section 3(2) of the Contempt of Courts Act. Also, the Law Commission recommended that the High Court should be given the power to direct a print or electronic medium to hold off the reporting any criminal case. 

The Death Penalty (262nd Report)

The Twentieth Law Commission of India presented the 262nd Report on the death penalty where the commission recommends to abolish the death penalty. The Commission observed that the death penalty should be abolished in all cases except in cases of waging war and terror-related cases. It was observed that the death penalty provides deterrence of criminal activities not more than that provided by life imprisonment. The panel consisted of nine members that recommended the above-mentioned change. Though not all the members were in favour of this proposition, three of the nine members had a dissenting opinion on this issue. They encouraged the withholding of capital punishment. 

The Commission did not give any specific reason for deciding to abolish the death penalty. It stated that it does not any particular approach for abolishing the death penalty, all it wants is to ensure that the process of abolishing should be in accordance with the fundamental value of irrevocable and complete abolition. 

The Commission also observed that even if there is no reasonable penological explanation for treating terrorism and waging war distinctively from the other criminal activities it is crucial to ensure that capital punishment is given in such cases so that national security of the nation can be secured. 

The doctrine of ‘rarest of the rare’ cases, too, was discussed in this Report. The Commission believed that the imposition of the death penalty in ‘rarest of rare’ cases does not ensure that there will be no miscarriage of justice. In some cases, it might be possible that an innocent is punished for the offence he did not commit, then, what will the court do. It would, surely, fail the purpose of justice. So, the commission was of the opinion that abolishing the death penalty, except in cases of terrorism and waging war, would be a right step that the government should consider. 

Human DNA Profiling (271st Report)

The Twenty-first Law Commission prepared the 271st Report on Human DNA Profiling – A Draft Bill for the Use and Regulation of DNA Based Technology. 

In this report, the Commission, except for amending the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 decided to introduce a separate law that would specify the rules and regulations related to DNA profiling. The Department of Biotechnology drafted a Bill known as the Use and Regulation of DNA-Based Technology in Civil and Criminal Proceedings and asked the Law Commission to analyse and revise as per requirements. But the Law Commission was of the opinion that a new law should be introduced to set up standards, procedures and quality assurance system for DNA profiling to make sure that this modern technology is used for legal purposes only and nothing less.

The DNA laws in other countries like China, UK, United States of America and Canada, as mentioned in this report, are enshrined within the boundaries of their respective Constitutions and other different legal provisions for the above-mentioned purposes. 

The Law Commission mentioned the following changes in this report:

DNA Profiling Board

This would be a statutory body. 

  • The Commission suggested that the board should introduce a framework related to DNA laboratories and their access to perform DNA tests and asked the concerned authorities of both the Central and State governments to work in accordance with the procedure.
  • The Board will have to lay down rules and regulations for the police officers and the investigating officers to deal with DNA cases. 
  • The Board will function in consonance with the international norms including all ethical and human rights issues. Also, it will propose all the work related to the research and development required for DNA profiling and other important matters.
  • In case of any new advancement in technology or any other reason, the Board can make necessary changes in the system. It can also introduce changes in entry, retention and expunction of DNA profiles.

DNA Data Bank

The Commission proposed for establishing a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Bank by the Central Government. These Banks would be accountable for storing the DNA profiles and making different blocks for categories like witnesses’ index, crime scene index, unknown deceased person index, etc.

  1. The Commission believes that DNA profiling would be used for the sole purpose of identifying a person and not for any other information.
  2. The sharing of information related to the different DNA profiles in strictly prohibited in this report. It does not approve of sharing the profiles with and by any Government organisation or institution or any other concerned authority. 
  3. It suggests maintaining a very high standard of confidentiality in relation to the extraction of information from DNA profiles and their uses.
  4. The report also talks about the imposition of punishment in case any person violates  the provisions of the Act. The punishment in case of violation is imprisonment for a term of three years and a fine of Rs. 2 lakh.
  5. The report also stated that in the trial of cases the Trial Court can be requested to conduct another DNA testing if the person satisfies that the present DNA sample was contaminated, and therefore, the Court cannot rely upon such report before arriving at any conclusion. 
  6. The experts of the DNA profiling will be referred to as the Government Scientific Experts and Section 293(4)(g) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 will inform about it.

The Report finally concluded by stating that the drafted Bill plans to fulfil every aim of the DNA profiling by meeting all the required standards, quality control and quality assurances. The Commission will, through this report, encourage exercising uniform standards of working in the laboratories where the work related to DNA profiling is carried out. 

Proposal for Omission of Section 213 from the Indian Succession Act, 1925 (209th Report)

In order to put an end to the discrimination while making wills by the various communities the Commission has recommended the omission of Section 213 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. The Eighteenth Law Commission was of the opinion that the said section is violative of Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. These communities included Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists. Though no action was taken in this regard. 

Analysis of the 2015 Draft Model Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty (260th Report)

The Law Commission of India did its best in bringing stability between the investor’s rights and the rights of the state in its 260th Report i.e., Analysis of the 2015 Draft Model Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty. The Bilateral Investment Treaty is a type of treaty in which the two participant countries lay down some basic principles in order to provide protection to the investors of one country investing in the other country. For example, the clause of ‘fair and equal treatment’ to the investors in order to prevent any state arbitrary action against them. Other securities include right against expropriation and Most Favoured Nation (MFN) provision.

The changes recommended by the Twentieth Law Commission are as follows:

  • The Commission’s first suggestion was related to the definition of the investment. The Commission broadened the concept of investment to a universally followed ‘asset-based’ definition. Originally, the definition was limited to ‘enterprise-based’ which meant an investor who is investing in India for the first time will not be given any protection.
  • Also, the Commission did not support the incorporation of Most Favoured Nation provision because it believed that India might want to provide better benefits to the investors of the countries having the high incoming investment. 
  • Thirdly, the Law Commission advised taking in the clause related to ‘denial of benefits’ which means that if an investor indulges in corrupt practices or does anything which is against the law of the land then, in such cases, the investor will not any benefits mentioned in the treaty. 
  • The Commission recommended changes in the provisions related to the resolution process provided in the Model Draft. The Draft has the provision that limits the jurisdiction, it prevented an arbitral tribunal to review any issue which has been resolved by any legal authority of the home country. The Commission wanted to remove this provision of jurisdiction bar. 
  • Lastly, the Commission recommended changes in the provision containing the list of general exceptions. This list of general exceptions in the Model Draft contains a list of aims that would be acceptable like, public order, stability of the financial system, public morals, etc and states that any action taken by the State to accomplish any of the objectives in the list would not be subject to any investigation before an arbitral tribunal. The said provision also granted the State the power to self-judge in order to determine whether a measure would come within the ambit of exception or will it become the subject of challenge.  The Law Commission of India suggested the government to re-draft the said provision and not to make it self-judging. 

It is said that the Commission through this does not point out many universally applicable principles it only introduces changes in respect of the basic international elements that would help India to act reasonably before the investors and to avoid the repetition of the White industries case. 

Working of the Law Commission 

The law commission has staff which consists of secretarial staff and the research panel. The research panel has researchers holding different ranks and having varied experiences. 

During meetings, which are held frequently, topics are discussed and issues are raised. Then, the decided topics are distributed amongst the staff members depending upon the requirements of the topic. Through this method consensus of the staff members is also obtained. 

Then, an outline of the issue is formed pointing out the main issue and the methods through which it can be resolved. The said outline is circulated to the other concerned authorities for their point of view to see if they want to add something, or are they satisfied or not? This is done because the law commission wants to make sure that the widest section of people have a say in this because ultimately laws are made for them only.

Once the commission gets to know about the peoples’ views, they analyse it and then prepare an organised introduction to be mentioned in the report. This is written by Member Secretary, or by the Chairman, or by any member of the commission. In meetings, it is then closely scrutinised.

Once the report is finalised, a final draft is prepared of the bill, or the amendment and is attached to the report before forwarding it to the central government. 

Role of Law Commission in Ensuring Legal Reform in India

The Law Commission of India plays a very crucial role in ensuring public interest. It helps in the formulation of strong public policies. While on the one hand, it acts as an advisory body on the other it criticises the government policies which do not benefit the public. 

In case of any defect in any public policy, it points out the defective part of the policy and suggests some ways to correct it. Though the recommendations made by the commission do not bind the government to act accordingly it as the discretion of the government to either accept or reject it.

Also, the liberty of taking up matters suo motu (on its own motion) acts as a beneficial factor in cases where there is no one to raise objection on some defective laws. The Supreme Court, too, has recognised the recommendations made by the commission. In many cases, the Supreme Court has accepted and followed the recommendations made by the commission.

Conclusion 

The main purpose of the law commission is to help the government to shape just public policies and ensure justice is delivered. It has always worked towards the enhancement of law reforms in India. It introduces legal reforms to correct the government’s wrong decisions. Therefore, it is the responsibility of both the government and the commission to work in close coordination because in the end, it is the public interest that matters.

References 

[1] 247 (2018) DLT 31.

 

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