The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a plea seeking direction to the Centre to declare the Law Commission a “statutory body” and appoint the panel’s chairperson and members within a month.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice to the Centre on the plea of BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, who made the Ministries of Home Affairs and Law and Justice as well as the Law Commission of India as parties.
The plea said the cause of action arose on August 31, 2018 and is still continuing when the tenure of the 21st Law Commission ended but the Centre has neither extended the tenure of its Chairperson and Members nor notified the 22nd Law Commission.
“Although, on February 19, 2020, Centre approved constitution of Twenty-second Law Commission but it has not appointed the Chairperson and Members till date,” Upadhyay said in the petition filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey.
The plea, which sought a direction to the Centre to appoint the Chairperson and Members to the 22nd law panel, has also made an alternative prayer urging the top court to do the needful itself.
“Alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of the fundamental rights, the Court may be pleased to use its plenary constitutional power to appoint the Chairperson and Members of the Twenty Second Law Commission of India and declare that the Law Commission of India is a statutory body,” it said.
Upadhyay has sought direction to the law panel, to be set up, to also consider his submission seeking action on the Vohra commission report on alleged nexus between politicians and criminals.
The PIL also sought action from the law panel on the plea “seeking 100 per cent confiscation of black money, benami property and disproportionate assets and life imprisonment to looters as a representation and prepare two separate reports within three months”.
It said: “Injury to public is extremely large as the Law Commission of India is headless since September 1, 2018 hence unable to examine public issues. Even the directions of the Constitutional Courts to Law Commission have become dead letter”.
The plea said that on December 11, 2020, the petitioner withdrew other PILs seeking action on the Vohra report and seeking 100 per cent confiscation of black money, benami property with the liberty to approach the Law Commission but was unable to do so as its headless.
The plea said since the Law Commission is not working, the Centre does not have the benefit of recommendations from this specialised body on the different aspects of law, which are entrusted to the Commission for its study and recommendations.
The Commission, on a reference made to it by the Centre, the apex court and high courts, undertakes research in law and reviews existing laws for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations, it said.
The panel has been able to make important contribution towards the progressive development and codification of Law of the country and it has so far submitted 277 reports, the plea said.