The process of repealing a law
Polity & Governance
1st Dec, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally announced the repeal of three contentious farm laws, assuring farmer groups protesting against these laws that the legislative procedure for repeal would be completed in the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament.
However, these laws can be only repealed through the proper constitutional Parliament process, by Parliament alone.
Parliament’s power to repeal a law
- Under Article 245 of the Indian Constitution, Parliament is vested with powers to both pass and annul laws.
- If Parliament is in recess, the government can repeal or enact laws by bringing an ordinance, which needs to be ratified by the House later.
- The power of Parliament to repeal a law is derived from the same provision of the Indian Constitution that governs the legislative prerogative of statute enactment.
- Legislation can also include a "sunset" clause, which states that a law will no longer be in effect after a certain date unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law.
- For example, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987, also known as TADA, had a sunset clause and was allowed to expire in 1995.
- If a law does not have a sunset clause, Parliament must pass new legislation to repeal it.
"Repeal means to revoke, abrogate, or cancel particularly a statute," according to a 'Reference Note' prepared by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in 2016, and "any statute may repeal any Act in whole or in part, either expressly or implicitly, by enacting matter contrary to and inconsistent with the prior legislation."
The process for repealing a 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Laws can be repealed in two ways — either through an ordinance, or through legislation.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- If the ordinance lapses because it is not approved by Parliament, the repealed law can be revived.
- In case of legislation,it will have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect.
- The three laws are:
- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
- Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
- These three laws were at the centre of protests by farmers for the past year.
How many laws have been repealed?
- The Repealing and Amending provision was last used in 2019, when the Union government attempted to repeal 58 outdated laws and make minor changes to the Income Tax Act of 1961 and the Indian Institutes of Management Act of 2017.
- Since 2014, 1,486 obsolete and unnecessary legislation have been repealed, according to Union Law Ministry.