For friendlier laws

This is the story of the Rajasthan law reform project, an exciting exercise I have had the good luck to be part of since 2014 first as a member of the Rajasthan chief minister s economic advisory council and subsequently, since 2015, as a member of the Niti Aayog.

As a citizen, I am expected to comply with the laws of the land. However, how can I do that if I wear t even understand exactly what the statutes, and the associated rules are or exactly what they state?

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Contrary to the basic impression, it isn t easy to get a list and text of the statutes. No one understands for certain how numerous state-level statutes there are.

However, this is no more than a guess. Don t get me wrong. In basic, we do know the vital statutes and rules. I suggested the entire corpus, not just the essential ones. Once the entire database is offered, there are a number of steps required for statutory law reform; the speed of disagreement resolution being a different problem.

Initially, exist old statutes and guidelines that can be rescinded, similar to the current Union government effort? Second, can one rationalize and harmonise statutes/rules, and prevent the confusion that lack of standardisation causes? Third, can one place all statutes/rules in the public domain? 4th, can one decrease excessive government intervention in statutes/rules?

As a possible template, such an enormous reform exercise doesn t take off unless it has the personal interest and the blessings of the chief minister. That message needs to percolate through to departments. To state something not often valued: Rajasthan federal government doesn t administer a statute/rule; a particular department within the Rajasthan government does, and every such department concerns its statutes/rules as proprietary stuff, not to be trifled with. That s where the CM s intervention is essential. Equally notably, there needs to be a faceless bureaucrat, who will take the CM s program and keep up it, plaguing and pestering departments, choosing not to back off.

2aThis isn t about the Industrial Disputes Act. Kerala repealed 697 statutes in 2005 and another 107 in 2009. Rajasthan s exercise is exhaustive.

We started with the presumption there were around 900 statutes and attempted to list all of them and get their texts. We had been given a figure of 900 but there were just 592 laws after some appropriation acts were ditched. Of the 592, 405 were primary acts and 187 were amending acts.

Ultimately, texts were acquired from the government printing press. The very first action was a straight-out repeal of the old and unneeded statutes/rules. In all, 61 primary acts and 187 modifying acts were eventually rescinded in October 2015.

 

There were statutes that had actually been overtaken and replaced by Union legislation and guidelines. The Rajasthan Corneal Grafting Act of 1984 is an example. Why shouldn t the Rajasthan Identification of Prisoners Act (1956), the Rajasthan Prisoners Act (1960) and the Rajasthan Prisons Act (1894) be consolidated into one?

We had believed the task would take till February 2017, but we will be through with it in September 2016, when we would have cut the number of statues to simply 277. With the state federal government s commitment, this provides you a concept of how long it takes to get to this phase approximately 2 years. All these statutes/rules will be offered online; the process has currently begun.

As of now, we are combining statutes under four broad heads land earnings, tenancy, land reforms and the imposition of ceilings. Messy, it may well be possible to minimize all land-related statutes to a cluster of simply 2 heads. If there is contract that statutes such as the Rajasthan Regulation of Boating Act (1956) can be done away with, we could minimize the last tally to simply 100.