Background of Law Commissions in India:
The history of the Law Commission in India commenced prior to independence, on establishment of the first Law Commission in the year 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833. The first Chairman of the Law Commission was Lord Macaulay, one of the brilliant minds in the field of law. It is the first Law Commission so established that recommended codification of the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Subsequent Law Commissions were constituted in the years 1853, 1861, 1879 which were also responsible for the enactment of so many laws, the important ones among them being the Indian Code of Civil Procedure, the Indian Contract Act, the Indian Evidence Act and the Transfer of Property Act. etc.
After India gained independence in the year 1947 and the British regime ended, the Constituent assembly was constituted to draft a constitution for governance of our country, consisting of eminent citizens of India. They gave us the present constitution which came into force on the 26th January, 1950.
The first Law Commission of independent India came to be established in the year 1955 and it was chaired by an eminent leading lawyer Sri. M. C. Setalvad, who was then the Attorney-General of India. Since then Law Commissions are being periodically constituted and most of them were chaired by former Judges of the Supreme Court of India. It is with effect from 01/09/2006 that the Eighteenth Law Commission was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Justice A. R. Laxmanan, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Background for establishing Law Commission for Karnataka:
Justice A.R. Laxmanan as Chairman of the Law Commission of India took keen interest in promoting establishment of State Law Commissions in different States to discharge functions similar to the Law Commission of India regarding laws of their respective States. As by then only few States had established the Law Commissions, Justice Laxmanan wrote letters to other States which did not have State Law Commissions, to establish the same as early as possible. It is learnt that Justice Laxmanan met the then Chief Minister, Speaker and Chairman of the Legislative Council in the year 2008 and convinced them of the need to establish a Law Commission for the State of Karnataka which has reputation as a progressive State. This lead to the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly writing a letter to the Chief Minister on 06/10/2008 requesting the Government to immediately constitute a whole time Law Commission headed by a retired Chief Justice of High Court or retired Judge of the Supreme Court who is acquainted with the Laws and Problems of Karnataka and has experience in the field of law reforms. It appears that the initiative of the Speaker was fully supported by the then Chairman of the Legislative Council. Being convinced of the need for establishment of State Law Commission for Karnataka, Government of Karnataka decided to establish a Law Commission for Karnataka.
Constitution of Law Commission of Karnataka:
Accordingly, the Government issued order No.LAW 42 HRC 2008, dtd.12/01/2009 constituting the State Law Commission. The order provides for constituting the Law Commission with a full time Chairman, a full time Member, a full time Member Secretary and five ex-officio Honorary Members.
Clause (a) of the order provides that the State Government shall appoint a retired Chief Justice of High Court or a retired Judge of the Supreme Court who is acquainted with the laws and problems of the State of Karnataka and has adequate experience in the field of Law Reforms as Chairman.
Clause (b) provides that the State Government shall appoint a retired Judge of the High Court of Karnataka as a Member.
Clause (c) provides that the State Government shall appoint a retired District Judge as Member Secretary.
Clause (d) provides that the following shall be the Ex-Officio Members of the Law Commission:
- Advocate General,
- Law Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
- Secretary, Karnataka Legislative Assembly/Council.
- Dean, Faculty of Law, Bangalore University
- Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of Karnataka.
On the request of the then Chairman, the Government has passed an order bearing No.LAW 03 KLM 2011, Bangalore dated 13/05/2011 by which the Director of KILPAR has been included as the 6th Ex-Officio Honorary Member of the Law Commission of Karnataka.
Change of Nomenclature of the Commission:
The Chairman felt that the name of the Commission should more appropriately be changed from "Karnataka State Law Commission" to "Law Commission of Karnataka". The desire of the Chairman was communicated by the Section Officer of the Law Commission by letter dated 16/02/2009 addressed to the Secretary, Dept. of Law, Justice & Human Rights and in pursuance of the said request, Government issued a notification No.LAW 19 KLM 2009, dtd. 3/03/2009 changing the nomenclature of the "Karnataka State Law Commission" to "Law Commission of Karnataka".