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Report No. 159

3.5. Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue).-

Through their letter dated 21-10-1997, the Ministry had informed the Law Commission that the Department has constituted an Expert Group for the purpose of identifying the obsolete laws and the amendments needed in the existing enactments. It was stated that an interim Report would be sent to the Commission shortly. On 13-2-98, the Commission received a communication stating that the Expert Group is of the unanimous view that out of the said 30 Acts (being administered by the Department) the following six Acts can be abrogated:

1. Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.

2. Central Excise Laws (Amendment & Validation) Act, 1982.

3. Sugar (Special Excise Duty) Act, 1959.

4. Mineral Products (Additional Duties of Excise & Customs) Act, 1958.

5. Central Duties of Excise (Retrospective Exemption) Act, 1986, and

6. Customs & Excise Revenue Appellate Tribunal Act, 1986.

Since no reasons were stated as to why aforesaid six Acts are required to be repealed, the Law Commission addressed a letter dated 4.3.98 asking the Department to state reasons for which the said Acts, in its opinion are to be repealed. By their letter dated April 3, 1998, the Ministry has informed the Commission that "the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 was recommended to be abrogated since no notification bringing the Act into force has been issued so far". On verification, however, the Commission finds that the above ground is not correct.

As a matter of fact, section 1(3) of the Act says that sections 3, 5 and 8 will come into force at once and that the remaining provisions will be deemed to have come into force on 19th May, 1988. In fact, there have been two decisions of the Supreme Court on the provisions of this Act namely, Mithilesh Kumari, AIR 1989 SC 1247 and R. Rajagopal Reddy, AIR 1996 SC 238 see para 5). The Commission, therefore, cannot agree that this Act requires to be repealed. Indeed, this Act serves a very laudable objective. The Sugar (Special Excise Duty) Act, 1959 was confined to stocks which were available with the factories on the date of commencement of the Act. It has no further application. It can be repealed as suggested.

So far as the Central Excise Laws (Amendment and Validation) Act, 1982 is concerned, the Commission finds on a perusal of the provisions of the Act that it was enacted for the purpose of providing the manner in which exemption notifications should be issued under "every Central Law providing for the levy and collection of any duty of excise which makes the provisions of the Central Excise Act and Rules made thereunder applicable by reference to the levy and collection of the duty and excise under such Central Law". The Act further seeks to validate several exemption notifications issued earlier which may not have cited or referred to the relevant provisions of the Act or the Rules under which or with reference to which they were issued.

It is not known whether any disputes are pending with respect to the exemption notifications which are validated by sub-section (4) of section 2 of this Act. So far as the sub-sections (2) and (3) of section 2 are concerned, they merely prescribe the mode and manner in which the exemption notifications under certain Central Laws [referred to in sub-section (2) of section 2] shall be issued. In the circumstances, it is difficult to agree that this Act can be repealed without further verification. Only if it is found on due verification that no disputes or litigation is pending with respect to the notifications which were validated by sub-section (4) of section 2 that this Act can be repealed.

So far as the Mineral Products (Additional Duties of Excise and Customs) Act, 1958 is concerned, it appears that the said Act pertained to a limited period namely, the period commencing on 1-4-59 and ending on 31-10-59. This Act can, therefore, be repealed with a specific provision that anything done or any action taken thereunder shall continue to be good and valid. Similarly, the Central Duties of Excise (Retrospective Exemption) Act, 1986 appears to be confined to Notifications issued during a particular period (3-3-36 to 8-8-36) giving them retrospective effect.

This Act can also be repealed subject to a specific provision that anything done thereunder or any action taken thereunder shall continue to be good and valid. The Commission agrees with the reasons given for repealing the Customs and Excise Revenue Appellate Tribunal Act 1986. In view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar and also because an appeal is now provided directly to Supreme Court against the Orders of the CEGAT concerning matters of valuation and classification, this Act can be said to be unnecessary and may be repealed.

3.6. (i) Department of Supply

(ii) Department of Ocean Development

(iii) Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources

The above three Departments have stated that they are not administering any Acts and, therefore, no question arises of any proposals being formulated for repeal or amendment. The Department of Supply, however, expressed certain practical difficulties in the matter of conduct of arbitration of disputes arising out of contracts entered into by the DGS&D. Though the difficulties pointed out appear to be real and urgent, it is not a matter upon which this Commission is expected to offer any comments.

Repeal and Amendment of Laws - Part I Back

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