Inefficient legislative drafting can weaken laws, democracy: Home Minister Amit Shah
New Delhi: An inefficient legislative drafting system can weaken laws and democracy and even affect functioning of the judiciary, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Monday, adding that grey areas left in the drafting would lead to encroachment in interpretation.
Inaugurating a training programme on legislative drafting for state and central government officials, Shah also said that it will be easier to educate about the law with minimal chances of errors by the executive if the drafting is better.
“The more simple and clear the drafting of the laws, the easier it is to implement a law. Clear drafting also keeps the possibility of judicial overstepping at bay. The more grey area left during the drafting process, the more scope for judicial interpretations,” he said.
Shah said India is not only the biggest democracy, the idea of democracy also emerged from India. From the days of the Mahabharata to the Mauryan era and again to the Gupta empire, democracy was one of the alternatives to government systems.
“The Indian Constitution borrows heavily from our democratic heritage while remaining guided by modern principles and practices of democracy,” Shah said.
The minister said the legislature is not a body of legal experts but that of public representatives who are aware of the problems and aspirations of the people. They make the laws in accordance with them but moulding these laws according to the letter and spirit of the Constitution is a heavy responsibility that lies on the legislative department.
Shah reminded that there should be special emphasis on not leaving a grey area. For example, while drafting the Constitution, it was clearly written in the index that Article 370 was a temporary provision.
“Had it not been written, what would have happened then?” he asked.
“So I clearly maintain that it is of utmost importance to understand the aspiration of the legislature while drafting any law. The smooth functioning of governments also depends on legislative drafting,” Shah said.
The minister said several factors — the Constitution, the welfare of the people, culture, historical legacy, the structure of governance, the nature of the society, the economic and social development status, international treaties and treaties and responsibilities — are to be kept in mind while drafting legislation.
He maintained that legislative drafting is neither art nor science, rather it is a skill that has to be practised while remaining in touch with the spirit of the Constitution. If there is no debate about the law for 25 years and the judiciary does not have to step in to interpret it, it will be seen as the flawlessness of the skill of the drafting official.
“To upgrade the skills of drafting law, one has to read the laws which have attracted lesser debates because of their clarity. Moreover, if time permits, also read the debates of the Constituent Assemblies,” he said.
Shah said having a grip on the language is also necessary as sometimes the spirit of the law is lost in translation. Mere translation will not help rather, the spirit of the law should be translated, he added.
Since Narendra Modi became prime minister, his government has rescinded nearly 2,000 irrelevant laws, Shah said.
“We have freed the society, the lawyers and the judiciary from a jungle of laws. The government also has not shied away from making new laws whenever necessary,” he said.