The Shillong (Rifle Range and Umlong) Cantonments Assimilation of Laws Act, 1954

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The Act no. 31 of the year 1954 which has been short titled as ‘The Shillong (Rifle Range and Umlong) Cantonments Assimilation of Laws Act, 1954’, was enacted as Act of Central Government by the Parliament of India. The Act was enacted with the view to make provisions as to assimilation of certain given laws which are having force in the areas scheduled under this Act, to the laws which are in force in the Districts of Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The Act received assent on 28th May of 1954.The Act was provided to extend the laws pertaining to matters provided under Union and Concurrent Lists given under the Constitution of India, which are having force in the Districts of Khasi and Jaintia Hills, to the areas given under schedule annexed with this Act.

The District of United Khasi-Jaintia Hills was constituted by virtue of Para 20(2) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. Prior to the Constitution of India brought into force, the area or territories comprising said District, was popularly known as ‘Khasi’ States and the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District, excluding any areas which was comprised within the cantonment and Municipality of Shillong, but including much area comprised within the Municipality of Shillong which formed the part of Khasi State of Mylliem. Also before the Constitution of India brought into force, the Shillong Rifle Range and Umlong Cantonment formed the pan of the Khasi State of Mylliem and they were not covering under Municipality of Shillong. As such the area covered by these Cantonments in the former Mylliem State was remained isolated non Trible area of the Assam State, which was not forming the part of any administrative district. And the said are now after the commencement of Constitution of India included in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District, without any change in earlier laws which were applicable to that area. Similarly, the Assam Government have repealed the laws which were in force in that areas by providing legislation, and the same is also provided to extend the laws which are in force in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District.

The Act has provided certain important definitions under its section 2 and certain clauses. The terms sought to define includes, Appointed day, Law and Scheduled Areas. The term Law here, in concern with this Act, is meant to include the Acts, Ordinances, Regulations, etc. which are connected with the matter enumerated under First and Third lists of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. This is because, the Act makes provisions to cease and extend the effect of laws pertaining to matters provided under Union and Concurrent Lists given under the Constitution of India, as aforesaid.

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Section 3 of the enactment is very important in so far as it is connected with the purpose of assimilation of every early laws of areas scheduled in this Act, which were having their force in that areas before this enactment has brought into effect, to the laws which are in force in the Districts of Khasi and Jaintia Hills. While such assimilation, all the laws which were in force in the said scheduled areas, were to be ceased from having effect, however, the early effects (i.e. any thing done or any abstinence) under that laws should not be deemed ceased. Similarly, the provisions of the General Clauses Act, 1897 (Act no. 10 of 1897) sought to be applied, in relation thereto, as the same are applied in relation to the repealing of legislation by the Central Government enactment.  The said section 3 of the Act, further makes provision to extend the effect of laws or to say the working area of laws which are having original effects in the District of Khasi and Jaintia Hills, to the areas from where the existing laws were ceased from having effect under this provision.

Moreover, the Central Government is vested with powers and authority to provide for any difficulty which can arise in connection to transition from one law or bunch of laws to another law or group of laws. The Central Government can make necessary provisions in its opinion fit for removing such difficulties and all such provisions should be notified by that Government in the Official Gazette.

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The Act was recommended for repeal by the P. C. Jain’s Commission Report, as the enactment has served its purpose. However, the Government has not repealed the Act, and as such it is further recommended for repeal entirely under the second interim report (no. 249) submitted on 13th October, 2014 by the 20th Law Commission in it study on ‘The Legal Enactments : Simplifications and Streamlining’.