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Specialised and Local Laws (SLLs)

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    31st Oct, 2023

Context:

Tabling of the new set of Criminal Laws has brought into attention the need for enacting and reforming Special and Local Laws that can be more effective in redressing grievances.

What is a Special and Local Law?

  • They are such laws that applies to a particular place or especially to a particular member or members of a class of persons or things in the same situation but not to the entire class, and that is unconstitutional if the classification made is arbitrary or without a reasonable or legitimate justification or basis.

Need for enactment of new SLLs?


  • SLLs provide for focused remedy to a legal grievance with a specialised approach and understanding of the issues.
  • SLLs have ignited crucial debates concerning the boundaries of the state’s power in criminalization, particularly with respect to individual rights and liberties.

What is the need for reform in SLLs?

  • Many Special and Local Law, e.g. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), suffer from ambiguity and vagueness in their definition thus making their provisions uncertain.
  • SLLs in some case provide for their own procedure to be followed which at times may not showcase clarity.

Statistics regarding SLLs:

In 2021, nearly 39.9% of all cognizable offenses registered fell under SLLs, according to Crime in India Statistics.

Way forward:

  • As Indian society moves ahead, the complexities in it are bound to increase, this therefore calls for more specialised laws to deal with them.
  • Failing to enact SLLs and incorporate the substantive and procedural aspects of SLLs into ongoing reform efforts represents a significant limitation.

Way Ahead:

  • Clarity and Precision in SLLs: It is essential to revisit and review existing SLLs to eliminate ambiguity and vagueness in their definitions.
    • Special attention should be given to the drafting process to ensure that the language used in SLLs is accessible and understandable to all stakeholders, including legal professionals, law enforcement agencies, and the general public.
  • Standardization of Procedures: Establishing uniform procedural guidelines can enhance the effectiveness of SLLs and simplify the process for all parties involved.
  • Public Awareness and Legal Literacy: To maximize the impact of SLLs, it is essential to invest in public awareness and legal literacy programs. These programs should aim to educate the public about their rights, obligations, and the specific SLLs that may affect them.
  • Continuous Review and Reforms: The legal landscape is dynamic, and new challenges emerge over time. Therefore, the process of enacting and reforming SLLs should be ongoing and responsive to the changing needs of society.
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