New Delhi: The Law Commission of India on Friday suggested repealing 72 obsolete statutes immediately in its first interim report that aims to simplify and streamline the country’s laws.

A committee of six led by A.P. Shah, a former chief justice of Delhi high court and chairman of the Law Commission, undertook the project with the hope that “the suggestions and recommendations contained would constitute a major step in the direction of simplifying the legal structure".

Three factors determined what constitutes an archaic or obsolete law, according to the report. “First, the subject matter of the law in question is outdated, and a law is no longer needed to govern that subject; second, the purpose of the law in question has been fulfilled and it is no longer needed and third, there is newer law or regulation governing the same subject matter," it said.

However, repealing laws that were passed through a valid legislative process does not overturn the effect of those laws, said Srijoni Sen, a senior research fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and a member of the committee reviewing these laws. For example, the states reorganization law that the report cites, and the action taken under it is protected, which keeps the legality of the action intact, she explained.

In order to identify the obsolete laws, the committee drew up a list of 1,086 laws in 49 categories of broad subjects. The report arranges the 72 statutes it considers worth repealing in chronological order. The laws range from labour laws to taxation, land laws to criminal justice laws, and include procedural and substantive laws.

The committee also identifies 261 laws it will study over the next month and consider if they should be repealed.

The move comes in the background of the government’s drive to overhaul the legal system. On the one hand, it has introduced amendments and fresh laws, and on the other, it has begun the process to repeal old, obsolete laws.

On 27 August, Prime Minister Narendra Modiappointed the committee to review and identify laws that needed to be repealed. This was in keeping with a larger plan of the National Democratic Alliance government, which also formed part of its 2014 election campaign.

Shah refused to comment.

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