65 years on, UK to scrap 'Raj' era laws

Sep 13 2012, 16:29 IST
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65 years after India's freedom, UK to scrap 'raj' era laws. (AP) 65 years after India's freedom, UK to scrap 'raj' era laws. (AP)
Summary38 acts related to Indian Railways that were enacted between 1849 and 1942 will be scrapped.

As debate continues in India about using laws drawn up during the 'raj' -- such as applying the sedition act to a cartoonist - - Britain is in the process of scrapping as many as 38 acts related to Indian Railways that were enacted between 1849 and 1942.

The laws have remained on the statute books in Britain even though India gained freedom in 1947.

The 38 acts related to Indian Railways are part of a cull being carried out of several old pieces of legislation considered "as being spent, obsolete, unnecessary or otherwise not now of practical utility".

Law Commission sources said that the 38 acts related to Indian Railways are contained in the Statute Law (Repeals) Bill, and that the Ministry of Justice will present it to Parliament in the ongoing session next month.

The scrapping of the acts is due to completed by the end of this year.

The 38 acts relate to the construction and maintenance of the railways network in India during British rule - - the first dated 1849 and the latest of 1942 - - and reflect the challenge of constructing and maintaining one of the largest railway networks in the world across vast distances in British India.

The sources said the procedure for such a repeal bill involves a hearing before a joint committee of both Houses.

That procedure has the effect of shortening the parliamentary process.

The bill is expected to reach the statute book by the end of this year, the sources added.

The 38 acts include those enacted during the rule of the East India Company and later when the governance of India was taken over by the British Crown after India's first war of independence in 1857, and the railway network came under state control.

Some of the 38 acts are: the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company Act, 1849; Assam Railways and Trading Company¿s Act, 1897; Oude Railway Act, 1858; Scinde Railway

Act, 1857; Great Southern of India Railway Act, 1858; and the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway Act 1942.

Setting out the historical context of the 38 acts, the draft bill notes that the benefits of harnessing travel by rail as a means of connecting British India were recognised by the East India Company in 1843, but it was unable (and unwilling) to finance the construction and running costs on its own.

"The East India Company's solution was a quasi-public/private partnership arrangement whereby ownership, control and risk would be

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