In a surprise move on Friday, the Centre decided to repeal three of the controversial farm laws promulgated by it last June.
The three laws -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act -- had triggered a year-long face-off between the union government and the farmers.
"Whatever I did, I did for farmers. What I'm doing is for the country. In the coming Parliament session, we will take constitutional measures to repeal these farm laws," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday. That brings us to the question: what is the process of repealing laws in this country? The answer is simple : the government can repeal a law, in the same manner, it promulgates one.
"For repeal, the power of Parliament is the same as enacting a law under the Constitution," says former Union Law Secretary P K Malhotra.
This implies that the government can adopt two methods for repealing the farm laws: by an ordinance, or through an amendment bill.
The Ordinance Method
According to Article 123 of the Indian constitution, an ordinance is a law promulgated by the President of India on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet. It has the same effect as any Act of Parliament. But it can be issued only when Parliament is not in session.
An ordinance, however, has an expiry date attached to it. The maximum validity of an ordinance is 6 months and 6 weeks. The period is usually used to introduce and pass the bill in Parliament.
In case of the introduction of the farm laws as well, the ordinance was passed in the Lok Sabha and via a controversial voice vote in the Rajya Sabha.
In this case, the government will likely promulgate the ordinance with immediate effect and introduce it as a bill in Parliament during the Winter Session, slated to begin on November 29.
Introduction of the bill
After enacting the ordinance, the government is likely to introduce a single bill in Parliament seeking to repeal all three farm laws.
Article 245 of the Constitution which allows Parliament to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India also allows the legislative body to repeal the law. The right was bestowed on Parliament by the Repealing and Amending Act, 1950.
The proposal for the amendment will be vetted by the Law Ministry and the bill will be drafted after taking into consideration its recommendations. The bill will be tabled and debated upon.
The Repealing and Amending Bill will pass through both Houses of Parliament like a typical amendment bill. After being passed by both the Houses, it will be sent to the President for his assent.
After the President gives his assent, the Bill becomes a law of the country and the three farm laws will cease to be effective.