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As Law Commission Bats for Betting in Sports, a Look at Its Past Recommendations and Their Fate

The point that law commission recommendations have only translated into laws when the subject has been of political interest to the ruling party cannot be denied.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:July 6, 2018, 3:55 PM IST
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As Law Commission Bats for Betting in Sports, a Look at Its Past Recommendations and Their Fate
Representative image. (Photo credit: Pixabay)
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New Delhi: The moot question, after the Law Commission of India presented its 276th report recommending legalising of betting and gambling, is will the Central government now formulate a law to legalise betting?

Law Commission recommendations have often been the gateway to laws that have ushered in reform or policy changes in the country. If there is a body which can ponder over laws, statutes and seek public opinion to restructure or suggest removal of the same, it is perhaps only the Law Commission of India.

The point that law commission recommendations have only translated into laws when the subject has been of political interest to the ruling party cannot be denied.

The four crucial areas which still await an action by the Central government even though law commission had put forth its recommendations on the same shows how even the recommendation of regulating betting and gambling too might not see the light of the day.

Year 2000 – 18 Years Ago

In a few days, on 10 July 2018, the Supreme Court will start hearing the petition by hotelier Keshav Suri who has sought to decriminalise Section 377 of the IPC.

But this very court had on December 2013 criminalised homosexuality and overturned the Naz foundation verdict by the Delhi High Court.

But all these petitions could have been avoided almost 18 years ago, if the then government in power would have taken note of a law commission recommendation in 2000.

In 2000, the Law Commission recommended deletion of Section 377 or, at least, a reduction of the harsh punishment to two years’ imprisonment.

In its 172nd report submitted by chairman BP Jeevan Reddy on March 25, 2000 to then law minister Ram Jethmalani, the commission had recommended, “In the light of the change effected by us in Section 375 IPC, we are of the opinion that Section 377 deserves to be deleted. After the changes effected by us in the preceding provisions (Sections 375 to 376E), the only content left in Section 377 is having voluntary carnal intercourse with any animal. We may leave such persons to their just desserts.”

Since then none of the governments in power has ever acted upon these recommendations and it has only gathered dust.

Bill To Prevent Honour Killings Put on the Backburner

India, as a country, along with its share of communal violence and hatred cases, has also been witness to a spate of honour killing cases or incidents where inter-faith couples and those marrying from different castes have been forced to live in exile, flee or die.

In 2012, The Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances) Bill, 2011 was proposed by the Law Commission under the Chairmanship of Justice AP Shah.

The bill proposed that no person or any group of persons shall gather with an “intention to deliberate on, or condemn any marriage, not prohibited by law, on the basis that such marriage has dishonored the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned.”

Marriage, according to the draft law, included a proposed or intended marriage. The Collector or the District Magistrate had been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the persons targeted in case any illegal decision is taken by the khap panchayat and he/she shall take necessary steps to prohibit the convening of such illegal gatherings.

However, while a CJI-led bench ruled “that when two adults marry out of their volition, they choose their path” and no interference is warranted on the same. The Centre conceded that it was yet to act on the law commission recommendation. It informed the court that it was still “considering” the bill proposed by the Law Commission.

Even after the SC verdict, a legislation on these lines would only prove to act as a safeguard for couples who intend to marry but fear an inevitable threat to life.

EC Not at Par with CEC Even after Law Commission Recommendation

Recently, a BJP leader had petitioned the court praying that the removal process should be the same for Election Commissioner and Chief Election Commissioner.

According to the law laid down in the constitution, EC may be removed at the behest of the CEC whereas the CEC may be removed only after President’s assent.

Law Commission of India in its 255th report on electoral reform had pitched for stronger Election Commission of India (ECI). The report was submitted to Ministry of Law and Justice by Law Commission Chairman Justice A P Shah.

It was recommended that appointments of Chief Election Commissioners (CEC) and all Election Commissioners (ECs) should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium or selection committee.

The Collegium or committee shall consist of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha) and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

However, while replying to a plea in the Supreme Court which prayed for similar removal procedure to be adopted in case of ECs like that of CECs, the centre stated that “our constitutional makers have made office of the chief election to be permanent one but same cannot be said in respect of ECs.”

This evidently means that the sword of uncertainty will continue to hang over the head of the ECs.

Abolish Death Penalty – No Action Yet

Capital punishment is a subject of continuous debate where each story of a convict being sent to the gallows has garnered mostly negative points.

However, the Law Commission of India in its 262nd report had recommended that the death penalty may be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism related offences and waging war.

The Commission headed by the then Justice A.P. Shah said that “Although there is no valid penological justification for treating terrorism differently from other crimes, concern is often ‘raised that abolition of death penalty for terrorism related offences and waging war, will affect national security.”

The commission also said that it does not see any reason to wait any longer to take the first step towards abolition of the death penalty for all offences other than the ones related to terrorism.

However, although recommendations on amendment to the definition of rape was duly implemented post the Nirbhaya episode, there has been no decision by the government on whether death penalty may be abolished or not.

In fact, when there was a plea before the Supreme Court to introduce a different method of carrying out capital punishment other than hanging, the Centre had unequivocally stated that it had no intention of introducing any change.
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