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Law reforms may take two years: Patil

By Our Special Correspondent

DHARWAD, MARCH 10. The Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, H.K. Patil, has said it may take two years to review and reform existing laws and introduce new laws, where necessary, as recently approved by the Cabinet.

Mr. Patil told The Hindu that the reforms envisage the introduction of the at least 15 Bills, besides amending the relevant provisions of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes.

Outside help

He said he would seek the help of academics and institutions for drafting the Bills. If the entire work of drafting all the legislation required is entrusted to the Law Department, there would be an inordinate delay.

Mr Patil said that after the Bills are drafted, wide-ranging discussions will be held before they are finalised for approval by the Cabinet.

One of the important Bills, which is being contemplated for introduction, is on conducting government cases. Though there are rules governing how government cases should be conducted, nobody appears to be aware of them. He obtained a copy of the rules with great difficulty, he said. It has been decided to give the rules the status of a special enactment to ensure better enforcement of the directives given by courts from time to time and also to fix the responsibility for handling the same.

Inadequate response

The new Bill is needed because the inadequate response and apathy in follow-up has resulted in the Government facing embarrassment on certain occasions and government interests being adversely affected, Mr. Patil said. The existing system has deteriorated to such an extent that it can only be salvaged through the enactment of a fresh law. Besides, as one of the biggest litigants, the Government has a duty to see that the cases are handled effectively and efficiently, he said.

Replying to a question, Mr. Patil said the financial implications of developing court infrastructure are being worked out. The Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister "are with me" as far as implementation of the law reforms are concerned, he said.

Mr. Patil is quite optimistic about implementing the whole reform package within a fixed timeframe. The proposals made by him have been generally welcomed. Karnataka is the first State to come out with policy on law reforms, Mr. Patil said.

Asked about the 11,000 cases that had become time barred on account of the laxity in handling them, Mr. Patil said efforts are being made to revive them. But he is not sure as to what extent the efforts will bear fruit. The extent to which the financial interests of the Government have been adversely affected as a consequence is being assessed, he said.

File clearance

Mr. Patil said he is happy about the progress made in the clearance of pending files in the department after he introduced a software package to trace the movement of files. The number of pending files has come down from 21,000 to 14,000, and he is aiming at having all the files cleared in a couple of months.

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