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Report No. 159

1.5. Need for formal repeal and law reform.-

As pointed out by the Law Commission in its earlier report, (Law Commission of India 148th report, para. 1.6) statutes, unlike human beings, do not die a natural death, excepting in respect of statutes whose life is pre-determined by the legislature at the time of their enactment. A statute, unless it is expressly enacted for a temporary period, survives until it is killed by repealing it. To this extent, the statutes enjoy immortality.

This consequence flows from the well-established proposition that long desuetude of a statute does not amount to its repeal. [Perrin v. U.S. (1914) 58 L Ed 69]. Even where an earlier enactment relating to a particular subject-matter is followed by a later enactment on the subject-matter covering almost every inch of the area covered by the earlier enactment, the earlier enactment may still be held to retain its vitality because courts lean against implied repeal.

Thus neither the obsolescence of an old enactment nor the fact that its content is substantially covered by a later enactment, has the effect of robbing the old enactment of its vitality in law. That effect can be achieved only by a formal repealing Act. Besides these objectives, the Law Commission is also required to see in wider perspective laws which do not comport with the existing climate of economic liberalisation according to the changing scenario of globalisation in economic sector. Thus change in conditions on political and economic front also necessitate the considering of changes in the relevant law when it was enacted.

Repeal and Amendment of Laws - Part I Back

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