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Law panel headless

india Updated: Jan 13, 2007 01:45 IST
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Five months after it began its three-year tenure, the Eighteenth Law Commission remains without a chairperson or permanent members. Set up to keep the system of judicial administration under control, the Law Commission suggests legislation and conveys to the government its views on subjects relating to law and judicial administration.

But the work of the panel cannot begin until its members meet to elect a chairperson. Since the government has not appointed members, no work, apart from administrative work, has been taken up.

Reforms in Indian law for the speedy settlement of disputes are just some of the issues awaiting the commission, said a government official.

Neither Law Minister HR Bhardwaj nor law secretary TK Vishwanathan responded to queries on why the ministry had failed to appoint members, but ministry sources told HT that the delay was caused by the "unavailability of members who the government considers suitable."

"It is sad. The Law Commission has an important role to play and has in the past contributed to the administration of justice," said jurist and former attorney general Soli Sorabjee. "This reflects the government's lack of appreciation of its importance," he added.

Former member of the 17th Law Commission, NM Ghatate pointed out that even after he had resigned soon after being appointed in 2003, the government had not appointed anyone to replace him for three years. "The Law Commission is like a court. If there are no judges, can justice be administered?" he asked.

The 17th Law Commission ceased to exist on August 31 last year and the 18th Law Commission of India was constituted the next day.

Of the 195 reports submitted by the past 17 Commissions to the government, 96 have been fully implemented while another 65 are in different stages of consideration.

Email Nandini R Iyer: nandiniriyer