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Report No. 248

31. Fort William Act, Act 13 of 1881

Category: Criminal Justice

Recommendation: Repeal

The Act provided for the better government of Fort William in Bengal and the Chief of Army Staff was given the power to make rules in relation to the matters specified in the Schedule appended to the Act (some of the matters being throwing dirt or rubbish, rash and negligent driving, disorderly behaviour in public).

The Act imposes light penalties, as little as a fine for Rs. 50 or imprisonment for 4 days, for infringement of these rules. The Act was considered for repeal by the 148th Law Commission Report, 1993 for being unconstitutional.

It was observed that "the delegation to a Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army of the power to try and punish persons charged with the violation of the rules framed under the Act is contrary to the general scheme of the Constitution and is opposed to the directive principle of separation of the judiciary from the executive." Even though the Law Commission did not recommend repeal of this Act, the PC Jain Commission in its Appendix A-5 did.


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