In recent years, the Indian government has undertaken an ambitious and crucial project: the authoritative sweeping or clearing of its legal databases of old, obsolete, and anachronistic laws from the legal systems. Since 2014, this has resulted to the selective repeal of 1,562 laws as a positive drive for modernising the nation’s laws and enhancing their applicability, efficiency and comprehensiveness to meet the contemporary needs. This eradication of laws is not only conducive to avoiding unnecessary legal complexity but also to the organisation of the country’s government and improving the conditions for business in India.

Prevalence and Background of the Law and Need for Change

India’s legal procedures inherited from the colonial powers remained very bureaucratic and cumbersome with many deprecated laws in its legal framework. Most of these laws which were drafted during the British rule were obsolete and were becoming more of a hindrance than a help in the Indian Judicial System. For instance, some laws stipulated practices that were inactive or came with the changes in technology as well as the society. Many of the laws prevailed for a long time and even if some were amended or abolished new laws were created and remained as impediments to efficiency and sources of legal difficulties.

The rationale behind this extensive exercise is clear: to repeal many of the out-dated laws in existence in order to reduce the complexity of the legal system and make legal assistance easier to attain. The ultimate goal is to encourage the political and administrative climate for business and governance by abolishing and clarifying outmoded legal barriers to business and development.

The Process of Repeal

The course followed by different governments in repealing these laws has been deliberate and calibrated just as all laws enshrine in the acts. The Law Commission of India has played a crucial role in this regard by pointing out such laws which are no more required and which needed to be repealed. The Commission’s reports, such as the 248th Report titled “Obsolete Laws: The legislative changes witnessed in the Cameron administration’s term in the British Parliament was laid down by this preliminary report known as “Revisiting Laws Warranting Immediate Repeal (Interim Report),” as it contained technical explanations for repealing certain laws.

Subsequent to the following recommendations, the government passed several Repealing and Amending Acts so as to harmonise the steps. These Acts are the legislative instruments used in the efficient removal of the aforementioned outdated laws from the laws of the land. The strategy was to make sure that repeal did not just become an academical process but one that would better the legal structure.

Impact of Key Repeals

Of all the repealed laws some of them are quite notable because of their historical relevance or the effects of repeal. For example, the Dramatic Performances Act of 1876, which was a colonial law that empowered the government to control theatrical productions was done away with. It was well received as people perceived it as a major step towards the freedom of speech and in expression of arts. This law which was initially used to curtail subversive activities against the British colonial rule became irrelevant in a democratic India which abides by the tenets of free speech.

This other remarkable repeal was the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act of 1911 practiced in colonial Kenya to contain political upheavals. Hence such laws are abolished by the government which is actually to bring the legal systems on par with the basic principles of democracy being the Constitution of India. These laws were carried forward from the times when people’s right to free speech and assembly was violated, hence, did not fit well into the new world that embraced democracy.

Advantages to Governance and Business

These legal policies have affected the forms of governance and doing business in India by their repeal. Many barriers have been removed when it comes to regulations; one of them is the <|reserved_special_token_262|> because the government has sought to remove various rules that were of no importance but had really affected the business society in terms of their compliance costs. In this connection, this initiative has brought a positive change in the ranking of India on ease of doing business globally. It is good to get rid of unnecessary laws and regulations; firms face reduced legal entanglement and can work toward business expansion and emerging trends.

In the aspect of governance, these include the elimination of such laws to reduce the legal complexities and therefore increase ease in the understanding and implementation of the laws by the public and other government departments. Earlier, such agreements used to be complex causing the legal procedures lengthy and complex thus resulting in frequent lawsuits. It also leads to optimal resource management by the government agencies as it spurs on the enforcement of those laws that are relevant and within the present time.

Challenges and Criticisms

The initiative has been generally well received but this has not come without challenges and criticism. There are many challenges but one of them is the fact that the subject they are dealing with and the research itself is very large in scale. An analysis of thousands of laws entails a lot of time and needs to be carried out with utmost care. Complainants have also said that there is no adequate framework or mechanism of consultative and public participation when coming to repealing of the above laws which must also be deemed as watertight. Civil society and other stakeholders in the legal fraternity should be engaged when undertaking repeal so as to capture all loops.

Some of the problems that criminal justice faces include potential of laws being abolished without proper regard to their cultural value. There is no doubt that the development of any modern country has to be served by adequate legislation but at the same time, one cannot fail to appreciate that it is very important to respect the historical background which gave rise to these laws. Moreover, it is also true that, there are some legal and organizational barriers in particular regarding the process of repealing laws and putting it into practice before all the related parties.

Future Directions

The repeal of the and old and outdated laws is constant. In this process new issues and needs arise and the legal system has to grow along with the society. It is crucial to maintain the future actions not only on the elimination of archaic laws but also on the enhancement of new laws’ drafted in a comprehensible and unambiguous language where possible. This would enable the legal system to be strong and meet the present day needs having been replenished with new competent judges.

There is therefore the need for a constant process of reviewing and amending the laws in consideration to technological trends and society’s evolving standards. Enhancing the legal education and legal consciousness is also important can’t be overemphasized. Concerned citizens will be aware of their rights and the laws that exist in their nation hence the government’s effort of promoting the desired culture. Legal reforms should always be made in context of such standards and aim at creating a legal environment that is conductive to innovation an economic growth.


Since 2014, 1,562 obsolete, unwanted and old laws have been removed from the legal framework – thereby changing the landscape of India’s legal procedure. The move signifies efforts towards contemporary bureaucracy, the dismantling of bureaucratic red tape and make certain that laws are up to date and friendly. Nonetheless, the ongoing attempts to scrutinise and make changes to the statute laws appear to be vital for the legal framework’s ability to tackle modern-day concerns. In this way, India progresses towards the legal framework’s recognition of the past and present and creation of a progressive future. This wide ranging legislative ‘spring clean’ not only improves the effectiveness of the legal system, but also reasserts the democracy which is the basis of the nation’s constitution. The constant evolving of laws is the key to creating a society characterised by justice, fairness, and dynamism to steer the competency of the twenty-first century challenges.

Contributed by- Rudraksh Gupta
[O.P. Jindal Global University (2022)]

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