100 Important Statutes one must Know as a citizen of India considering the fact we have laws in the form of statutes that have directly or indirectly affected each and every one of us. Our legislator that is Parliament has framed law on almost each and every sector be it a crime, civil, environment, finance, personal laws, citizenship, tax and whatnot. In this article we will try to list out such 100 must know statutes for you.
100 Important Statutes You Must Know
26. The Environment Protection Act, 1986
The Act was prepared in the year 1986 after the Bhopal tragedy. The purpose of the Act is to implement the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment of 1972. The decisions relating to the protection and improvement of the human environment and the prevention of hazards to human beings, other living creatures, plants and property. The Act is an “umbrella” for legislations designed to provide a framework for Central Government, coordination of the activities of various central and state authorities established under previous Acts, such as the Water Act and the Air Act.
27. The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
The Act aims to provide for the better prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases (such as Covid-19). Under the Act, temporary provisions or regulations can be made to be observed by the public to tackle or prevent the outbreak of a disease. The Epidemic Diseases Bill was tabled on January 28, 1897, during an outbreak of bubonic plague in Mumbai (then Bombay).
The existing laws were deemed insufficient to deal with various matters such as “overcrowded houses, neglected latrines and huts, accumulations of filth, insanitary cowsheds and stables, and the disposal of house refuse. The Bill called for special powers for governments of Indian provinces and local bodies, including to check passengers off trains and sea routes.
28. The Essential Commodities Act, 1955
This Act is used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices. The list of items under the Act includes drugs, fertilisers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.
The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves. Under the Act, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.
29. The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003
It aims to make the Central government responsible for ensuring inter-generational equity in fiscal management and long-term macro-economic stability. The Act envisages the setting of limits on the Central government’s debt and deficits. It limited the fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP.
To ensure that the States too are financially prudent, the 12th Finance Commission’s recommendations in 2004 linked debt relief to States with their enactment of similar laws. The States have since enacted their own respective Financial Responsibility Legislation, which sets the same 3% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) cap on their annual budget deficits.
30. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
The Act establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). consolidates various acts & orders that had earlier handled food-related issues in various Ministries and Departments, such as:- Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Fruit Products Order, 1955, Meat Food Products Order, 1973, Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947, Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988 and Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992. These were repealed after commencement of FSS Act, 2006. FSSAI was consequently established in 2008 but work within the Food Authority effectively began in 2011 after its Rules and key Regulations were notified.
31. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
FCRA 2010 is a consolidating act passed by the Government of India in the year 2010. It seeks to regulate foreign contributions or donations and hospitality (air travel, hotel accommodation etc) to Indian organizations and individuals and to stop such contributions which might damage the national interest. It is an act passed for regulating and prohibiting the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by companies, associations or individuals for such activities that could prove to be detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
32. The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999
The Act was enacted to overcome the shortage of foreign currency in the country. It facilitates and promotes external Trade and Payments, development of foreign exchange market in India. FEMA contains 7 Chapters divided into 49 sections of which 12 sections cover operational part and rest deals with contravention, penalties, adjudication, appeals, enforcement etc. It provides the basic legal framework. Under section 46, it empowers the Central Government to make the rules. Under section 47, it empowers RBI to make the regulations. Its main powers are with the Central Government and the RBI.
33. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018
The Act seeks to confiscate properties of economic offenders who have left the country to avoid facing criminal prosecution or refuse to return to the country to face prosecution. It defines Fugitive economic offender as a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing an offence listed in the Act and the value of the offence is at least Rs. 100 crore.
34. The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
The Act protects the geographical indications in India. India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The GI tag ensures that only those registered as authorised users (or at least those residing inside the geographic territory) are allowed to use the popular product name. Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India, in 2004–05, since then 370 goods had been added to the list as of August 2020.
35. The Goods and Services Tax Legislation, 2017
It is the consolidation of all the indirect taxes in India. It is a destination-based taxation system. It has been established by the 101st Constitutional Amendment Act. It is an indirect tax for the whole country on the lines of “One Nation One Tax” to make India a unified market. It is a single tax on supply of Goods and Services in its entire product cycle or life cycle i.e. from manufacturer to the consumer.
36. The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008
The Act was enacted for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas or village courts for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas of India. The Act came into force from 2 October 2009. However, the Act has not been enforced properly, with only 208 functional Gram Nyayalayas in the country (as of 03 September 2019) against a target of 5000 such courts. The major reasons behind the non-enforcement include financial constraints, the reluctance of lawyers, police and other government officials.
37. The Income Tax Act, 1961
This Act is basically the parent charging statute of Income Tax in India. It provides for levy, administration, collection and recovery of Income Tax.
38. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
The Act was originally passed in British India by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1872, during the British Raj. It contains a set of rules and allied issues governing the admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law. It has eleven chapters and 167 sections and came into force on 1 September 1872.
39. The Indian Forest Act, 1927
The Act regulates the movement of forest produce, and duty leviable forest produces. It also explains the procedure to be followed for declaring an area as Reserved Forest, Protected Forest or a Village Forest. This act has details of what a forest offence is, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act. After the Forest Act was enacted in 1865, it was amended from time to time.
40. The Indian Penal Code, 1860
The Code is the official criminal code of the Republic of India. It is a complete code intended to cover all aspects of criminal law. The first draft of the Indian Penal Code was prepared by the First Law Commission, chaired by Thomas Babington Macaulay. The draft was based on the simple codification of the law of England, while at the same time borrowing elements from the Napoleanic Code and Louisiana Civil Code of 1825.
The IPC in its various sections defines specific crimes and provides punishment for them. It is sub-divided into 23 chapters that comprise of 511 sections.
41. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 regulates the Indian labour law so far as that concerns trade unions as well as individual workmen employed in any industry in the Indian mainland. The act was drafted to make provision for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes and to secure industrial peace and harmony by providing mechanism and procedure for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation, arbitration and adjudication which is provided under the statute.
The main and ultimate objective of this act is “Maintenance of Peaceful work culture in the Industry in India” which is clearly provided under the Statement of Objects & Reasons of the statute.
42. The Information Technology Act, 2000
This Act is the primary law in India for matters related to cybercrime and e-commerce. The act was enacted to give legal sanction to electronic commerce and electronic transactions, to enable e-governance, and also to prevent cybercrime. Under this law, for any crime involving a computer or a network located in India, foreign nationals can also be charged. The law prescribes penalties for various cybercrimes and fraud through digital/electronic format. It also gives legal recognition to digital signatures.
43. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals. The Government implemented the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) to consolidate all laws related to insolvency and bankruptcy and to tackle Non-Performing Assets (NPA), a problem that has been pulling the Indian economy down for years. It shifts the responsibility to the creditor to initiate the insolvency resolution process against the corporate debtor.
44. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019
The Act provides for the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. The Act reorganises the state of Jammu and Kashmir into: (i) the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and (ii) the Union Territory of Ladakh without a legislature. The Schedule of the Act list 106 central laws that will be made applicable to Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on a date notified by the central government. These include the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Right to Education Act, 2009. Further, it repeals 153 state laws of Jammu and Kashmir.
45. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
The Act mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district having at least one woman member each. The Act list out offences committed against children (like, illegal adoptions, use of child by militant groups, offences against disabled children, etc) which are not adequately covered under any other law. Also, all Child Care Institutions, whether run by State Government or by voluntary or non-governmental organisations are to be mandatorily registered under the Act within 6 months from the date of commencement of the Act.
46. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013
The Act provides for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States. These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status. They perform the function of an “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
47. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005
The Act was enacted with the primary objective guarantying 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work. It is one of the largest work guarantee programmes in the world.
48. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
The Act protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e., full paid absence from work to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The recent amendment in the Act increased the Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.
49. The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
The Act repealed the old Mental Health Act, 1987. This Act brought changes in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (which criminalized attempted suicide). Now, a person who attempts to commit suicide will be presumed to be “suffering from severe stress’’ and shall not be subjected to any investigation or prosecution. The act envisages the establishment of the Central Mental Health Authority and the State Mental Health Authority.
50. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957
The Act regulates the mining sector in India and specifies the requirement for obtaining and granting mining leases for mining operations. The Act envisages the provision of mining license i.e., the prospecting license-cum-mining lease, which is a two stage-concession for the purpose of undertaking prospecting operations (exploring or proving mineral deposits), followed by mining operations. Maximum area for mining: Under the Act, a person could acquire one mining lease for a maximum area of 10 sq km.
51. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
The Act provides for the grant of licenses and permits related to motor vehicles, standards for motor vehicles, and penalties for violation of these provisions. As per the recent amendment, the central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour and constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
52. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986
The Act was passed to protect the rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by their husbands. The Act was passed by the Rajiv Gandhi government to nullify the decision in the Shah Bano case. It is administered by any magistrate of the first-class exercising jurisdiction under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. As per the Act, a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to reasonable and fair provision and maintenance from her former husband, and this should be paid within the period of iddah.
53. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019
The Act protects the rights of married Muslim women and prevents divorce by the practice of instantaneous and irrevocable ‘talaq-e-biddat’ by their husbands. It provides the rights of subsistence allowance, custody of minor children to victims of triple talaq i.e. talaq-e-biddat. The Act makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.
54. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
The Act commonly referred to as the NDPS Act prohibits a person the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The NDPS Act has since been amended thrice in 1988, 2001 and 2014. The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.
55. The National Food Security Act, 2013
The Act subsidized food grains to the population. The enactment of the NFSA marks a watershed in the approach to food security from welfare to a rights-based approach. The Act provides for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to an adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices for people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
56. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
The Act establishes the National Green Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources. The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to the environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment). Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on the filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear an appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
57. The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008
The Act constitution the National Investigation Agency (NIA). It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences relating to the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States, against atomic and nuclear facilities and smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency. Its objective is also to combat terror in India.
58. The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014
The Act constituted the National Judicial Appointment Commission which was responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. The Act sought to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.
A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) was to be inserted into the Constitution. On 16 October 2015, in a 4-1 majority verdict, the Supreme Court held that both the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, were unconstitutional as it would undermine the independence of the judiciary.
59. The National Security Act, 1980
This Act is a preventive detention law which involves the detainment (containment) of a person in order to keep him/her from committing future crimes and/or from escaping future prosecution. Article 22 (3) (b) of the Constitution allows for preventive detention and restriction on personal liberty for reasons of state security and public order. The Act empowers the Centre or a State government to detain a person to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to national security. The government can also detain a person to prevent him from disrupting public order or for maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
60. The Northeastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971
The Act seeks to establish the new States of Manipur and Tripura and form the new State of Meghalaya and the new Union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh by the reorganisation of the existing State of Assam. The Act also seeks to define the territories of the new States and Union territories and makes the necessary supplemental, incidental and consequential provisions regarding representation in Parliament and in the Legislative Assemblies of the Stales and other matters. It further provides for the constitution of a common High Court for all the States in the north-eastern region and a Common Bar Council.
61. The Official Secrets Act, 1923
The Act is India’s anti-espionage. It states that actions which involve helping an enemy state against India are strongly condemned. It also states that one cannot approach, inspect, or even pass over a prohibited government site or area. As per the act, helping an enemy state can be in the form of communicating a sketch, plan, a model of an official secret, or of official codes or passwords, to the enemy.
62. The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959
The Act lists down certain offices of profit under the central and state governments, which do not disqualify the holders from being an MP. Article 102 of the Constitution provides that a person shall be disqualified from being chosen as a Member of Parliament (MP) if he holds an office of profit under the government of India or the government of a state. However, Parliament can declare by law that the holding of certain offices will not incur this disqualification.
63. The Patents Act, 1970
The Act provides the patent owner with the legal means to prevent others from making, using, or selling the new invention for a limited period of time, subject to a number of exceptions.
64. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
The Act is applicable to establishments employing 10 or more persons for compulsory payment of Gratuity which is a sum of money paid to an employee at the end of a period of employment.
65. The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
The Act for the first time introduced the offence of giving a bribe as a direct offence. However, a person who is compelled to give a bribe will not be charged with the offence if he reports the matter to law enforcement authorities within seven days.