Few days back Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the repeal of three controversial laws in his November 19 speech addressing the nation, assuring farmer groups protesting against these laws that the legislative procedure for repeal would be completed in the near coming Winter Session of Parliament. The expectation now is that the repeal bill for the three laws could be tabled in Parliament’s winter session beginning November 29. All three farm laws can be repealed through a single legislation.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021: To repeal the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
After being submitted as ordinances by the Centre in June, the three farm laws were ratified by Parliament in September last year.
While the Supreme Court put the three farm laws on hold in January, experts say that a stay on their implementation does not change the fact that they received presidential assent - a requirement in the enactment of laws - and thus would need to be repealed through the proper constitutional process, by Parliament alone.
Repealing a law is one of the ways to nullify a law. A law is reversed when Parliament thinks there is no longer a need for the law to exist. Legislation can also have a “sunset” clause, a particular date after which they cease to exist.For example, the anti-terror legislation Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987, commonly known as TADA, had a sunset clause, and was allowed to lapse in 1995. For laws that do not have a sunset clause, Parliament has to pass another legislation to repeal the law.
(Sunset Clause: A law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law.)
Article 245 of the Constitution which gives Parliament the power to make laws also gives the legislative body the power to repeal them through the Repealing and Amending Act. The Act was first passed in 1950 when 72 Acts were repealed.
The last time the Repealing and Amending provision was invoked was in 2019 when the Union government sought to repeal 58 obsolete laws and make minor amendments to the Income Tax Act, 1961 and The Indian Institutes of Management Act, 2017.
The Act was the sixth such repealing act, aimed at repealing laws, tabled by the Narendra Modi government. The Narendra Modi government already repealed 1,428 Acts during its first term.
Generally, laws are repealed to either remove inconsistencies or after they have served their purpose. When new laws are enacted, old laws on the subject are repealed by inserting a repeal clause in the new law.
Laws can be repealed in two ways — either through an ordinance, or through legislation.
In case an ordinance is used, it would need to be replaced by a law passed by Parliament within six months. If the ordinance lapses because it is not approved by Parliament, the repealed law can be revived. The government can also bring legislation to repeal the farm laws. It will have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect.
Ordinance: In case an ordinance is used, it would need to be replaced by a law passed by Parliament within six months. If the ordinance lapses because it is not approved by Parliament, the repealed law can be revived.
Repealing through Legislations: The government will have to pass the legislation to repeal the farm laws in both Houses of Parliament, and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect.
Usually, Bills titled Repealing and Amendment are introduced for this purpose. It is passed through the same procedure as any other Bills.
The Prime Minister and the Executive branch of government cannot repeal a law unilaterally, as a legislation gets its authority from being passed in Parliament, not because of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's seal of approval.
The method of doing this is through a Repealing Act, ie a legislation which repeals the law in question. Normally, the government will repeal and modify a whole bunch of laws together at a time, in the form of a Repealing and Amending Act.
THE REPEALING AND AMENDING ACT, 2019
An Act to repeal certain enactments and to amend certain other enactments.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Seventieth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—
1. This Act may be called the Repealing and Amending Act, 2019.
2. The enactments specified in the First Schedule are hereby repealed.
3. The enactments specified in the Second Schedule are hereby amended to the extent
and in the manner specified in the fourth column thereof.
4. The repeal by this Act of any enactment shall not affect any other enactment in
which the repealed enactment has been applied, incorporated or referred to; and 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;
nor shall this Act 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 recognised 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.