Post 377, time for SC to knock out these Archaic Laws

The giant leap of Supreme Court of India decriminalizing consensual, same sex relations is receiving a lot of attention in the media. The Victorian law which was introduced by British before independence was struck down today on grounds that societal morality cannot trump fundamental rights under Indian Constitution. Section 377 is not the only law which is behind times even by Indian standards. We discuss below some outdated legislations that are worth a mention.

At her Majesty’s Pleasure

Sounds preposterous, right? Well, not if you find anything valuable buried underground according to Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878. Recently, construction workers in Hareenahalli village near Mysuru lost rights to a pot full of coins they found because they did not notify the Collector. Do you know who the treasure went to as per law? Her Majesty the Queen of England! This is one colossal colonial hangover.

License to fly a kite?

While James Bond might have the license to kill, in India one needs license even to fly a kite or have a birthday party. The definition of ‘aircraft’ under Aircraft Act, 1934 includes balloons- fixed or free, kites, gliders and flying machines (including drones). The lack of clarity has led to confusion galore. For example, drones are illegal to fly but completely legal to sell. Draft guidelines of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) making drones legal are pending notification.

Partners in pleasure not partners in crime

Section 497 of Indian Penal Code makes adultery a criminal offence for the man but not the adulterous woman. This is another Victorian relic according to which women are naïve and the property of men and therefore incapable of seduction. Recently Supreme Court observed that this provision should be interpreted as per progressive times but the law still stands.

The maze of Labour Laws

The labour laws in the country are way too many and also repetitive in nature which makes the compliance a tricky job. The labour laws are the tipping point for any business venture and needs to be addressed in a wholesome manner so as to codify the various provisions to promote ease of doing business. There have been initiatives by various state governments to simplify the labour laws which is a commendable effort. The same needs to be done a t central level as well.

In 2017 the Parliament repealed as many 250 archaic laws but we guess like India’s growing pile of garbage the problem of archaic laws will need a ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.

(Kritika Krishnamurthy is Partner at AK & Partners and Prachi Wankhede, Policy Consultant, Bridge Mediation and Consulting)

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