64 archaic laws repealed by Maharashtra legislature, more to go

64 archaic laws repealed by Maharashtra legislature, more to go

64 archaic laws repealed by Maharashtra legislature, more to go

As many as 64 acts, some of them dating back to 1876, were repealed by the Maharashtra legislature during the recently concluded monsoon session.

'Maharashtra Repealing Act, 2016', passed by both houses of the legislature, is a part of larger exercise to delete altogether 191 such irrelevant and outdated legislations which have been deemed fit for removal from the statute book by the Law Commission.

These legislations have been divided into ten volumes and are to be repealed in phases, from the ones dating back to 1827 to those passed in 1984.

Of the total of 191 acts, 54 concern the Urban Development, 39 relate to the Revenue Department and 14 laws concern the Law and Judiciary.

Among the legislations repealed recently is 'The Maharashtra Dog Race-courses Licensing Act, 1976,' which regulated dog races. In these races an object propelled by mechanical means was chased by dogs; such races have become extinct long ago.

'Bombay Racecourses Licensing and Bombay Betting Tax Acts (Extension and Amendment) Act, 1958' provided for levying tax on moneys paid in all forms of races including dog races. In case of default on payment of betting money, the defaulter had to pay fine as an arrear of the land revenue.

'The Tolls on Roads and Bridges Act' dated back to 1875. It empowered the officers to levy toll on road traffic. The rate ranged from Rs 1 for four-wheeled carriage on springs, to 12 annas for carts and hackery (two wheel cart or sledge on springs drawn by horse or any other animal).

Even the 'foot-passengers' needed to have special sanction from the Government to walk, use bridges or hill roads and had to pay a toll of three paisas in some areas. The proceeds of the levy would go to construction, repair and maintenance of roads and bridges within the Presidency of Bombay.

In 1912, The Bombay Smoke Nuisances Act' was introduced. There was also a Maharashtra (Bombay area) Smoke Nuisances Commission to regulate and take action against illegal alterations in furnaces.

'The Maharashtra Disqualification of Aliens Act, 1918', another colonial-era piece of legislation, debarred 'aliens' (those who were not citizens of India or represented a foreign firm) from voting at elections of certain local bodies in the Presidency of Bombay.

'The Maharashtra Refugees Act, 1948' was meant to regulate registration of refugees coming from West Pakistan during the Partition. Most of these refugees settled in Mumbai, Ulhasnagar and Jalgaon, among other places.

The law made it incumbent on the head of the family to register names of family members at the registration centre within seven days of arrival in the state.

The law dealing with stray cattle nuisance on roads is perhaps not irrelevant even today! 'The Cattle-Trespass (Bombay Amendment) Act' of 1931 required that owner accept the ownership of the cattle and pay prescribed security. If the seizure of the cattle was held to be legal upon inquiry, the security money was forfeited and owner lost ownership of the cattle too.

'The Indian Lunacy, Bombay District Municipal and Bombay Municipal Boroughs (Amendment) Act, 1936' provided for a local authority for recovery of the cost of the maintenance of the lunatics.

'The Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act, 1853' empowered the District Collector to remove "Nuisances" like encroachments from the shores of the islands which made up Mumbai town. The purpose was to keep the internal waterways of Mumbai free of encroachment; now these waterways have disappeared. 

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