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Report No. 148

1.8. Statute law revision and its function.-

The function of statute law revision and the principles on which its exercise should proceed have been lucidly put by Lord Westbury, Lord Chancellor, while speaking in 1863 on the Statute Law Revision Bill. This is what he said1:

"The Statute Book should be revised and expurgated-weeding away all those enactments that no longer in force and arranging and classifying what is left under proper heads, bringing the dispersed statutes together, eliminating jarring and discordant provisions, and thus getting a harmonious whole instead of a chaos of inconsistent and contradictory enactments."

We have quoted this passage from the 96th Report of the Law Commission of India2 and would like to add our own analysis of the pithy but pregnant statement of Lord Westbury. It appears to us that as envisaged by Lord Westbury, statute law revision is intended to achieve four main objectives.

(i) renovation-which is achieved by "weeding away" obsolete enactments;

(ii) order and symmetry-which can be introduced by arranging and classifying the enactments really in force;

(iii) easy access to legislation-promoted through consolidation by "bringing the dispersed statues together"; and

(iv) harmony-perfected by "eliminating discordant and jarring provisions".

These goals, pursued systematically, can obliterate so much of the past as is useless, organise the present and equip us for meeting the challenges of the future.

1. Lord Westbury Parliamentary Debates, (1863) 3rd Series, Vol. 171, col. 775, quoted by Lord Simon of Glaisdale and Webb Consolidation and Statute Law Revision, (1975) Public Law 285, 291

2. See Law Commission Of India, 96th Report, para. 1.4.

Repeal of certain Pre-1947 Central Acts Back

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