Law Commission of India is an executive body set up by order of the Government of India to work for legal reforms in the country. It is neither a Constitutional body nor a Statutory body. It acts as an advisory body to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice. The tenure of the commission is fixed, which is three years.
Before the Independence of India, the first Law Commission was established in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833 under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay during Governor-General William Bentinck. The first Law Commission under Lord Macaulay recommended the codification of the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. The second, third, and fourth law commissions were established in 1853, 1861, and 1879 respectively, during the British period. The Indian Code of Civil Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act, and the Indian Contract Act are the outcomes of the first Law Commission.
After the Independence of India, the First Law Commission of Independent India was set up in 1955 with M. C. Setalvad as its Chairman. Since then, twenty-one Law Commission had been set up, each having a tenure of 3 years. So far, 277 reports submitted by the Law Commission to the government.
The 21st Law Commission was constituted in September 2015 under the former Supreme Court Judge, Justice B. S. Chauhan, and had tenure to 31 August 2018. In February 2020, the Union Cabinet had also approved the creation of the 22nd Law Commission for a term of three years.
Composition of Law Commission
- Law Commission of India consists of:
- a full-time Chairperson.
- four full-time Members, including a Member-Secretary.
- Secretary of Department of Legal Affairs and Secretary of Legislative Department as two ex-officio members.
- not more than five part-time members.
- The membership of the commission comprises judicial and legal experts. A retired judge of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of the High Court appointed as the Chairperson of the commission.
Functions of the Law Commission
- The Law Commission conducts the legal research and reviews existing laws for making reforms therein on a reference made to it by the Central government or suo moto.
- It undertakes the studies and research to bring reforms in the justice delivery system for eliminating delay in the procedure, reduction in the cost of litigation, speedy disposal of cases, etc.
- Another function of the Commission is to review or repeal Obsolete laws. It identifies the Laws that are no longer relevant and can repeal immediately. It also identifies the Laws, which are not in tune with the current climate of economic liberalization and require changes.
- The Commission examines the laws that affect the poor. It also conducts the post-analysis of socio-economic legislations.
- It suggests the enactment of new legislations may be necessary to implement the Directive Principles of State Policy and achieve the objectives formulated in the Preamble of the Constitution.
- It recommends the measures for the speedy redressal of grievances of citizens in the legal domain.
- The Commission gives its views on any matter related to law and judicial administration, which may be referred to it by the government through the Ministry of Law and Justice.
- For simplifying procedures and eliminating technicalities.
- For improving the standards of administration of justice.’
- For eliminating delays, ensuring quick clearance of arrears without affecting the principle of justice.
- It studies the existing laws with a view of promoting gender equality and gives suggestions thereof.
- It also considers the requests to provide research to any foreign countries as may refer by the government through the Law Ministry.
- The Commission examines the impact of globalization on unemployment & food security, suggests measures for protecting the interest of the marginalized.
- It prepares and submits the reports to the Central Government on all matters, studies, and research conducted by the Commission.
- It performs such other functions as may be assigned to it by the Union Government.
Role of Law Commission
The Law Commission of India as an ad hoc body has been key to law reforms in India. Its role is both advisory and critical of the policies of the government. The Commission submits its reports to the Central Government from time to time on all matters, studies & research conducted by it, including the recommendations for the effective measures to be taken by the Central or State governments.
However, the recommendations of the Commission are not binding on the government. They may be accepted or rejected. Action taken on the said recommendations depends upon the ministries or departments concerned with the subject matter of those recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Is Law Commission a Statutory body?
Ans: Law Commission of India is neither a Statutory body nor a Constitutional body. It is an executive body established by order of the government for a fixed tenure.
Q2. Who was the first Chairman of the Law Commission of India?
Ans: Lord Macaulay was appointed as the first Chairman of the Law Commission of India in 1834 during the British regime. But, after the Independence, the first Chairman of the Law Commission of Independent India was M. C. Setalvad in 1955.
Q3. Is Law Commission mentioned in the Constitution of India?
Ans: The Constitution of India does not say anything about the formation of the law commission. However, Article 39A of the Indian Constitution provided that the State shall secure that the operation of the Legal system promotes justice by providing equal opportunities, free legal aid through suitable legislation or schemes.