Supreme Court declines to entertain plea seeking statutory status for Law Commission of India

The Court also turned down the prayer to direct the Law Commission to prepare reports on confiscation of black money.
CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha
CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking directions to declare Law Commission of India as a statutory body [Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs Union of India and ors].

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha said that a direction could not be issued by the top court to the parliament to make a law.

On the prayer to direct the Law Commission to prepare reports on confiscation of black money, benami property and disproportionate assets, CJI Chandrachud remarked,

"Why should we direct everything under the sun to be examined by Law Commission?"

The Supreme Court had in January 2021 sought the response of the Central government to the petition which also sought appointment a chairperson and members to the then vacant Law Commission.

The petition filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, stated that the cause of action arose on August 31, 2018 and had been still continuing when the tenure of the 21st Law Commission ended.

The Central government in November last year constituted the Commission after a gap of four years, and appointed former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi as its chairperson.

Justice Awasthi headed the bench that delivered the hijab verdict that upheld a ban on the Islamic headscarf in government pre-university colleges in Karnataka.

The prayer for filling up the vacancy was, therefore, addressed.

Upadhyay in his plea also sought that the Commission be directed to act on the Vohra Commission Report on the alleged nexus between politicians and criminals.

During today's hearing, the CJI asked what survived in the matter, after Attorney General for India R Venkataramani said that the Commission has been formed.

"80 per cent work is left," Upadhyay contended, to which Justice Narasimha replied,

"Left or done? Maybe left before the Commission."

The Court then disposed of the plea.

"Such a direction would necessarily implicate a writ of mandamus being issued to Parliament in its legislative capacity. It is a settled position of law that a writ cannot be issued to Parliament to enact a law. This pertains exclusively to the legislative domain. Hence, we decline to entertain the Petition for the subsequent part of the relief as claimed," the order stated.

Upadhyay did not press the prayer directing the Commission to prepare reports, and asked the bench for liberty to file a representation before the body in that regard.

"Why do you need an order from us?", the CJI asked.

[Read order]

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