Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has constituted a Committee of Judges to bring out an authoritative series of ‘Restatements of Law’ on about 100 topics to remove ambiguities surrounding the legal principles and their applicability; clarification and simplification of laws for their better adaptation to social needs.

In the first stage the committee will identify the subjects suitable for preparation of Restatements of Law (RoL). It is proposed to have two parallel projects — long-term and short-term, having regard to the nature of topic, current relevance and need for re-statement.

The objective of the project undertaken in association with the Indian Law Institute is to identify uncertainties in law in basic legal subjects; extensive examination and analysis of legal areas requiring reform and statement of current law of the land by considering both statutory provisions and judicial interpretations.

The committee, comprising a few Supreme Court and High Court judges, eminent jurists, academicians, and scholars, has initially embarked upon a pilot project (to create standards as models) in three areas: legislative privileges, contempt of court and public interest litigation. The other short-term subjects are: corrupt practices in elections; treaty-making power of the state; preventive detention and adoption.

The long-term projects would be in administrative law; arbitration; partnership; succession; damages and compensation; interpretation of statutes and deeds and consumer protection. There will be periodical addition of subjects, revisions and updates of existing re-instatements.

Reinstatements unlike text books and treaties are not opinion-based; they are authoritative pronouncements of the law on a subject at a particular time exploring principles, interpretations, practices and impact. It avoids ambiguities and complexities as far as practicable by simple language, illustrations, comparative insights and incisive probes on fundamentals. They can be selective on issues and topics and need not be comprehensive on all aspects of a given theme.

The CJI is of the view that an authoritative series of RoL will be of enormous help to lawyers, judges, academicians, civil servants and general public as it is formulated with extensive inputs from various sources. When properly drafted RoL would reflect the consensus of the legal community as to what the law is and what it should become.

RoL on a subject will also restrict the practice of citing a string of old cases, every time a principle had to be stated.

For the three areas already selected, the committee will invite academicians, lawyers, judges and other scholars to act as authors, editors, advisers/consultants. They will prepare a draft report in each topic by the end of December this year. It will be considered by a sub-committee and after revision, wherever necessary, will be published by the ILI in a month’s time inviting comments, debate and discussions from the legal world.

Thereafter the relevant suggestions and comments received from the public would be placed before a full committee of judges for incorporating them in the draft report and the final report is expected to be published as a book before the retirement of Mr. Balakrishnan in May 2010.

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