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Gujarat State Law Commission headless since 2011

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Law Commission, set up with the purpose to review and suggest acts to aid better governance, appears to be in a state of disarray with the post of its chairman lying vacant since 2011.

The Gujarat State Law Commission came into being in 1998 with the declared purpose to regularly review and suggest new acts for better governance, keeping in mind the changed social and economical scenario of the state. It became functional in 1999.

Gujarat Law Commission headless. Image courtesy Legal Department, Gujarat

In last 13 years of its functioning, the panel has given 58 reports, but since June 2005, when it gave its last report to amend the Bombay Police Act, the commission has not submitted any report to the state government. Moreover, the post of Chairman of the Commission has been lying vacant since 8 August 2011 when the tenure of Justice (retired) JN Bhatt ended.

Justice JN Bhatt had since been appointed as the Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC).

"The government is aware about the fact that the post of chairman of state law commission is vacant but I am not aware if any efforts were carried out in past three months as during that period the Model Code of Conduct for the Assembly elections was in place," said Minister of state for Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Pradeep Singh Jadeja.

When specifically asked about whether government was intending to take up the issue of appointing new head in near future, he was evasive.

"We are taking steps, through Home department, to strengthen the law and order situation in the state keeping in mind the recent changes in social scenario and our approach is positive," he said.

If some officers in the Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs department to be believed, the state government, at one point of time, had even considered winding up the panel.

But even while the post of the chairman was lying vacant for almost one-and-a-half-years, the government has granted two more extensions to the commission.

During the three-year stint of its last chairman, the panel did not file any report.

"Even if Justice Bhatt had intended to prepare any report he couldn't have done it because of the non-appointment of two other members of the commission," said a Law Commission officer.

As per the the notification through which Commission came into the existence and the legal provisions contained in it, only a full-bodied panel can file a report.

The Law Commission is a three-member body. However, the posts of two members- one a government nominee and other being from outside--have been lying vacant for several years.

While post of the government nominee has been vacant from 1 August 2006 that of non-government nominee from 1 July 2005.

Since the time of its formation, the Law Commission had also been assigned the task to suggest new laws or amendments to strengthen existing ones to protect the people in view of emerging challenges in social and economic scenarios.

PTI