Supreme Court Agrees To Hear PIL Seeking Appointment Of Chairperson, Others In Law Panel
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider listing for hearing a 2020 PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to declare the Law Commission as a "statutory body" and appoint the chairperson and members to the panel.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions of lawyer and petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay with regard to vacancies in the Commission.
The tenure of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31, 2018 and still, the Centre has neither extended the tenure of its chairperson and members nor notified the 22nd Law Commission, the lawyer said, adding the notices were issued in the matter earlier.
We will list the matter, the bench said.
In a reply to the PIL, filed by the Ministry of Law and Justice in December 2021, it was said that there was no proposal under consideration to make the Law Commission a statutory body.
"It is submitted that the 22nd Law Commission was constituted on February 21, 2020, and the appointment of chairperson and members is under consideration with concerned authorities. However, no proposal is under consideration to make the Law Commission a statutory body, the ministry had said in its affidavit.
The Ministry had submitted that the petition filed by Upadhyay is frivolous and not maintainable as being devoid of merits.
The PIL, which made the ministries of Home Affairs and Law and Justice as well as the Law Commission of India as parties, said the cause of action arose on August 31, 2018 and is still continuing when the tenure of the 21st Law Commission ended but the Centre has neither extended the tenure of its chairperson and members nor notified the 22nd Law Commission.
"Although on February 19, 2020, the Centre approved the constitution of Twenty-second Law Commission but it has not appointed the chairperson and members till date," Upadhyay said in the petition filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey.
The plea, which sought a direction to the Centre to appoint the chairperson and members to the 22nd law panel, has also urged the top court to do the needful itself.
"Alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of fundamental rights, the Court may be pleased to use its plenary constitutional power to appoint the chairperson and members of the Twenty Second Law Commission of India and declare that the Law Commission of India is a statutory body," it said.
Upadhyay has sought direction to the law panel, to be set up, to also consider his submission seeking action on the Vohra commission report on the alleged nexus between politicians and criminals
The PIL also sought action from the law panel on the plea "seeking 100 per cent confiscation of black money, benami property and disproportionate assets and life imprisonment to looters as a Representation and preparing two separate reports within three months".
It said: "Injury to the public is extremely large as the Law Commission of India is headless since September 1, 2018, hence unable to examine public issues. Even the directions of the Constitutional Courts to the Law Commission have become dead letter".
The plea said that on December 11, 2020, the petitioner withdrew other PILs seeking action on the Vohra report and seeking 100 per cent confiscation of black money, benami property with the liberty to approach the Law Commission but was unable to do so as its headless.
The plea said since the Law Commission is not working, the Centre does not have the benefit of recommendations from this specialised body on the different aspects of law, which are entrusted to the Commission for its study and recommendations.
The Commission, on a reference made to it by the Centre, the apex court and high courts, undertakes research in law and reviews existing laws for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations, it said.
The panel has been able to make important contributions towards the progressive development and codification of Law of the country and it has so far submitted 277 reports, the plea said.
With PTI Inputs