Process of Repealing Laws in India

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A bill when is constitutionally presented, passed, and approved by the Hon’ble President it becomes an Act. India has a plethora of laws that have been present since the pre-independence period but many of them are no longer in use. It creates a need to repeal such laws and introduce new ones to overcome the issues in modern society. As per Article 245 of the Constitution of India, Parliament has the power to make laws and the legislative body has the power to repeal them with the help of the Repealing and Amending Act. The laws should be repealed when it becomes obsolete and outdated as repealing a law nullifies its power. The main reason behind repealing of law is that a particular law is having more negative consequences than were originally envisioned. In this article, a brief discussion is performed regarding the process of repealing a law. 

How can a law be repealed Constitutionally? 

The primary purpose of repealing a law is either to remove inconsistencies or to ensure that it completely served its purpose. Old laws are repealed when new laws are enacted which is done by inserting a repeal clause in the new law. The laws can be repealed either through an ordinance or legislation. Parliament must pass a new law within six months if an ordinance is used. If the Parliament does not approve the ordinance then it lapses and the repealed law can be revived. Another way to repeal a law is through legislation. The legislation will be passed to repeal a law by both Houses of Parliament and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect. Basically, the ‘Repealing and Amendment’ titled Bills are introduced. There are two ways to withdraw or repeal a law through legislation, (i) In a case where legislation has a ‘sunset’ clause (particular date after which they cease to exist) then the law lapses automatically on that particular date, and (ii) If there is no sunset clause then another legislation (bill) has to be passed by the Parliament with the same name to repeal the law. In order to repeal laws, a simple procedure is followed as mentioned below:

  • Introducing the bill in the Parliament.
  • Bill to be named the ‘Repealing and Amendment’ Bill.
  • The bill is then circulated and undergoes three readings.
  • After this, Bill is sent to the President for assent.
  • Assent of the President.
  • After the President’s assent, Bill becomes an Act.

A law cannot be repealed unilaterally by the Prime Minister and the Executive branch of the government because legislation received its authority not because of the seal of approval given by the Prime Minister and Cabinet but from being passed in Parliament. An appropriate way to repeal a law is through a Repealing Act. Generally, a whole bunch of laws will be repealed and modified by the government together at a time, in the form of a Repealing and Amending Act.

The Repealing and Amendment Act, 2019

The primary motive of this Act is to repeal certain enactments and to amend certain other enactments. Important Sections of this Act are illustrated as follows:

  • Section 1 of the Act defines its short title, “This Act may be called the Repealing and Amending Act, 2019.” 
  • As per Section 2 of the Repealing and Amendment Act, 2019, “The enactments specified in the First Schedule are hereby repealed.” 
  • Section 3 of the Act illustrates that “The enactments specified in the Second Schedule are hereby amended to the extent and in the manner specified in the fourth column thereof.”
  • Any enactment repealed by this Act should not affect any other enactment in which the repealed enactment is applied, incorporated, or referred to. Also, Section 4 of the Act illustrates that “this Act shall not affect the validity, invalidity, effect or consequences of anything already done or suffered, or any right, title, obligation or liability already acquired, accrued or incurred, or any remedy or proceeding in respect thereof, or any release or discharge of or from any debt, penalty, obligation, liability, claim or demand, or any indemnity already granted, or the proof of any past act or thing.” Moreover, the Act should not “affect any principle or rule of law, or established jurisdiction, form or course of pleading, practice or procedure, or existing usage, custom, privilege, restriction, exemption, office or appointment, notwithstanding that the same respectively may have been in any manner affirmed or recognized or derived by, in or from any enactment hereby repealed; nor shall the repeal by this Act of any enactment revive or restore any jurisdiction, office, custom, liability, right, title, privilege, restriction, exemption, usage, practice, procedure or other matters or things not now existing or in force.”

To date, this Act of the Parliament of India repealed about  58 Acts, and minor amendments are made to the Indian Institutes of Management Act, 2017, and the Income Tax Act, 1961. Moreover, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and the Companies Act, 1956 were repealed with the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and the Companies Act, 2013, respectively. Apart from this, Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was repealed and declared unconstitutional in the Joseph Shine vs. Union of India case. 

1. In how many ways a law can be repealed?
2. How many Acts are repealed by the Parliament of India to date?