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Repealing Obsolete Laws

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
November 2014
Repealing Obsolete Laws

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to repeal hundreds of archaic and obsolete laws that are still on the books in India. In his recent speech in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, he said he would get rid of one outdated law each day. About 300 of these obsolete laws were passed during the colonial era. Here are just a couple of examples:

1. The Foreign Recruiting Act of 1874: Under this law, the Indian government can issue an order forbidding a foreign state from recruiting Indians to work for them in any capacity. This law was superseded by many subsequent laws, including the spectacularly successful Computer Programmer Export Act of 1980.

2. The Sarais Act of 1867: This law orders the regulation of every sarai, defined as “any building used for the shelter and accommodation of travelers.” Among the rules: The keeper of the sarai must “cleanse the rooms and verandahs, and drains of the sarai” and “remove all noxious vegetation on or near the sarai, and all trees and branches of trees capable of affording to thieves means of entering or leaving the sarai.” For violations of this act, a magistrate may impose a penalty “not exceeding twenty rupees, and to a further penalty not exceeding one rupee a day for every day during which the offence continues.” In other words, for one rupee a day, you can grow all the “noxious vegetation” you want.

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