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Part-Time Members Allege Law Commission Chairman Treating Them Like 'Second Class Citizens'

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

According to Bhardwaj, a circular was sent from the Chairman to the part- time members around February, specifically stating that signatures of part-time members was not necessary on final drafts being sent to the government.

New Delhi: The Law Commission of India, tasked with determining if PM Modi’s idea of simultaneous polls is workable, is battling an internal conflict of its own. An allegation has been leveled against Chairman BS Chauhan for treating three part-time members like “second class citizens”.

The part-time members are Satya Pal Jain, Abhay Bhardwaj, and Prof (Dr.) Bimal N Patel. The commission also has Dr Sanjay Singh as its Member Secretary.

Advocate Abhay Bhardwaj has alleged that Chairman Chauhan asked the three part-time members “not to sign the draft laws” and has also not shared the "final draft laws” with the part-time members.

“The chairman has taken us for granted. He has issued instructions that only four permanent members will sign the drafts. He told us that signatures of part-time members are not necessary in the drafts being sent to the government,” said Bhardwaj.

According to Bhardwaj, a circular was sent from the Chairman to the part- time members around February, specifically stating that signatures of part-time members was not necessary on final drafts being sent to the government.

He has further alleged that “when the part-time members stated that they would write to the government highlighting the disconnect,” the Commission informed them that the part-time members can send their own reports to the government.

“When we said that we will write to the government and oppose that we have not signed it, we were asked to send separate reports to the government directly. Since then we are sending dissenting and supplementary reports to the legal department of the government,” said the part-time member.

When questioned on what formed the basis of this dispute, Bhardwaj alleged that such disconnect was present from the inception of the 21st Law Commission.

“Such a thing is happening for the first time. If all previous law commission drafts are seen then signatures of part-time members have always been there. The disconnect is there since the inception. The chairman has never treated part-time members as part of the commission. He has never allowed us the freedom to say what we want to say,” said Advocate Bhardwaj.

News18 did attempt to solicit a response from Chairman BS Chauhan, via email and call, but has not received a reply from the commission regarding this.

Bhardwaj also alleged that the submissions of the part time members too do not form a part of the minutes of meetings of the internal commission meetings.

“The chairman is working unilaterally. We don’t know what goes on in his mind. He has not taken all the members in confidence. None of our opinions form a part of the minutes of meetings and often a single line is put forth that this member did not agree,” said the law commission member.

But is a practice of not having draft laws signed by part-time members an unprecedented act?

Justice M Jagannadha Rao, who has served as the law commission chairman, told News18 that this was the “convention”.

“The convention followed was that only full-time members would sign the Reports. Part-time members participate in all discussions and also help in the finalisation of reports,” Justice Rao told News18.

first published:August 14, 2018, 15:27 IST