Abolish old, irrelevant laws; frame simpler laws in regional languages: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently suggested abolishing irrelevant laws and framing laws in regional languages for the benefit of citizens.

PM Modi was speaking at the inauguration function of the All India Conference of Law Ministers and Secretaries.

Addressing the gathering virtually, the Prime Minister suggested to the attendees to focus on ways to upgrade the judicial system and the laws, and to ensure that the focus is on “ease of justice”.

He broadly spoke on the following issues:

That old, outdated statutes have to be abolished and replaced with new laws;

Efforts from Central and State legislatures along with the judiciary to ensure that laws are drafted in simpler language and made available in regional languages as well;

Collectively aid the judiciary in expediting the justice delivery system with alternative methods;

State governments and judiciary must have a humane approach while dealing with issues of undertrials.

Abolish old, outdated laws

Modi was of the opinion that statutes and procedures in law ought to continuously evolve to adapt to changes in society.

For instance, the legislature had abolished over 1,500 irrelevant and outdated such laws and over 35,000 compliance procedures to remove legal obstacles and for ‘ease of justice’.

Modi urged State Law Ministers to find such old laws and replace them with new laws which were in sync with the present.

“Some countries include an expiry date within the statute while framing it, which means after that particular date, the law will not be effective. When the expiry date arrives, the law framers review the law with the existing circumstances. In India too, we can strive for same,” Modi suggested.

Laws should be in simpler language and available in regional languages

Modi stated that legal language was complicated, because of which citizens were required to spend money to obtain justice.

He pointed out that while framing laws, some countries dealt with this problem in two ways.

If they have to use technical words, then the same are defined.

They use a language that citizens understand and draft statutes in a manner that citizens understand.

Hence, he pointed out that laws were required to be framed in a manner such that the poorest of poor citizens understood it.

Regional languages also could be important for improving ease of justice, Modi said.

“Law courses should be in regional languages; laws be simple. The digital libraries of Supreme Court and High Courts should available in regional languages, we will have to work towards this . This will ensure that citizens not only have a better understanding of law, but it will also ensure less fear of the legal jargon.”

Delay in dispensing justice

Modi assured the audience that in the 75th year of Independence, all help would be extended to the judicial system to find a solution for the delay being caused in dispensing justice.

“Amongst the many solutions, one solution is of Alternate Dispute Resolution System (ADRS), which can be encouraged at State level. Indian villages have had a system since ages. They have their own system and procedure, but the idea is the same as ADRS. We have to find a way to understand this system and ensure it can be incorporated into our legal system,” he said.

He recollected that during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, the State had launched ‘‘evening courts’ to deal with issues which were not as grievous in nature. People would finish their work in the day, and then come to courts in the evening to complete any legal procedure. This ensured that they saved time, and their matter progressed speedily.

The Prime Minister also asked the Ministers and Secretaries to incorporate more technology into the judicial system to expedite procedures.

“We have seen during COVID how technology has become an integral part of the judicial system. The e-courts mission is speedily progressing. Virtual hearing and virtual appearance before courts has become a part of the system. Apart from this, e-filing of cases is also being encouraged. With the advent of 5G, these systems will pick up pace. Of course, too many changes will lead to some problems, so States will have to upgrade and update their existing systems,” he said.

Humane approach towards undertrials

While emphasizing that a strong nation needs a sensitive judicial system, he expressed concerns over the issue of undertrials.

He urged all Ministers and Secretaries to take necessary steps to expedite trials and to take a humanitarian approach while dealing with the issue of undertrials.

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