How to Repeal Laws in India?

23 Nov 2021  Read 1762 Views

Many amongst us are almost familiar with the law-making process in India wherein a bill is passed by both the Houses of Parliament and then it is sent to the president for assent. But what about its repeal? Only a few would have the idea as to repeal or nullification of the laws in India. Around 58 Acts have been repealed by far. As we have seen that after a lot of resistance from the farmers; PM Modi on the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti addressed the nation that the government will repeal the three new farm laws in the upcoming Winter session of Parliament despite constant efforts made by the Government to convince the farmers on the benefits of the farm laws. Now, the word “repeal” here means to withdraw, annul or revoke any Act of Parliament. But why & how? To know these, read this article.

Article 245 of our Indian Constitution empowers the Parliament to make laws for the whole or any part of India, and state legislatures the power to make laws for the state. Parliament draws its power to repeal a law from the same provision. Therefore, Parliament is given the power to enact as well as repeal any law under the said article. 

What do you mean by repeal of laws?

Repealing a law is one of the methods to nullify a law. Under this method, a law is reversed when Parliament anticipates that there is no longer a need for the law to exist. Laws can be repealed in two ways — either through an ordinance or through legislation. 

  1. Through an ordinance- In the case of an ordinance, it would need to be replaced by a law passed by Parliament within six months. If the ordinance lapses because it is not approved by Parliament, the repealed law can be revived. 

  2. Through Legislation- A legislation can be brought to repeal a law. It will have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect. Usually, Bills titled ‘Repealing and Amendment’ are introduced for this purpose. There are two ways in which a law can be withdrawn or repealed through legislation.:

  1. A legislation can have a “sunset” clause, a particular date after which they cease to exist. Say, the anti-terror legislation Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987, commonly referred to as TADA, had a sunset clause which was permitted to lapse in the year 1995. 

  2. In case of any other law that does not have a sunset clause, Parliament has to pass another legislation (bill) with the same name to repeal the law.

Example: All three farm laws can be repealed through a single legislation (as there is no sunset clause inserted and it is not an Ordinance). Modi government had passed six Repealing and Amendment Acts since it came to power in 2014, in order to repeal over 1,428 statutes that are obsolete. The power of the Parliament to repeal is the same as enacting a law under the Constitution. The government will have to bring a bill to repeal the three farm laws. "There is no other way," as stated by former Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Acharya. If you want to know about these three farm laws, refer to this blog!



Procedure to Repeal laws in India

The procedure to repeal any act enacted in the Indian Parliament is pretty simple. Say any government wants to repeal an existing Act - The Motors Vehicle Act, 2001 - passed in the year 2001. In order to repeal this said Act, the Parliament will pass an act titled "The Motors Vehicle (Repealing and Amendment) Bill, 2021" in the current year. And this Bill must state the objective as to repeal The Motors Vehicle Act of 2001. Once the repeal Bill is passed by both Houses of the Indian Parliament and ratified (i.e.; signed and notified) by the President, it will become an Act which will repeal the previous act. Certain conditions to pass a new bill to repeal a previous Act are as follows:

a) If the previous act was passed with a simple majority of both houses of the Indian Parliament, then the repeal bill would also require approval by a simple majority of both the houses to become an Act.

b) If the previous act was a Constitutional amendment that required an approval of 2/3rd majority of both houses of the Parliament or was passed by a Joint Sitting of the two houses, then the repeal bill will also require this similar approval - either 2/3rd majority in both houses must approve it or the Joint sitting of the two houses must approve.

c) Finally, if the previous act was a Constitutional amendment that involved a combination of 2/3rd majority of both houses of the Parliament combined with ratification by at least 1/2 of all state legislatures, then the repeal bill will also follow the same procedure to become an Act.

Effect of Repeal

The major effect or objective of a Repealing Act is to bring necessary changes in the existing law with changing socio-economic and cultural conditions from time to time. The objective of this Act is merely to remove the outdated or obsolete matter from the body of law. After such removal, the court decides whether the new provision meets its objectives and has different intentions or not.  This act is the editorial revision by abolishing obsolete and unnecessary matters of the last Act and adding novel and proper information in the books of the statute.

How is an amendment brought?

The Parliament is the only body authorized to amend laws at the Central level, just as the Legislature does at the State Level. An amendment to the existing law is proposed in Parliament as an Amendment Bill, and when passed by Parliament, becomes an (Amendment) Act, such as the Companies (Amendment) Act. This is then given the President's assent, and after being notified, becomes the law of the land. 

The Repealing and Amending Act, 2019 is an Act of the Parliament of India that repealed 58 Acts. It also made minor amendments to the Income Tax Act, 1961 and The Indian Institutes of Management Act, 2017


A law can be repealed either in its entirety, in part, or even just to the extent that it is in contravention of other laws. We can conclude by referring to a statement given in a Lok Sabha secretariat note, "Just as the Legislature has the power to enact laws, similarly it has the power to repeal laws. The efficacy of the Legislature depends upon the possession of the power to repeal the existing law, for without this attribute the power to enact would be a nullity, and the body of the law a series of contradictory enactments. Consequently, the legislative power to repeal prior laws is not inhibited by any constitutional prohibitions, but exists as a necessary part and increment of the legislative power and function.” Hence, no statute can make itself immune from repeal.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 55 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content writer at Finology Legal, pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) from ITM University, Raipur with core interests in criminal law and IPR and had also been a judicial aspirant. she pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune; and had also undergone training as a patent analyst under IIPTA.

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