Here are a few bizarre laws in India-
1. Indian Aircraft Act, 1934: Do you know you can not fly a kite without a License. In India, one person needs to have license/government permit to make, possess, sell or fly a kite. The same rule applies for plane or aircraft.
2. East Punjab Agriculture Pests, Diseases and Noxious Weeds Act, 1949: Delhiites can be fined Rs 50 if they fail or ignore a call by government to beat drums on streets if locusts invade the city.
3. Licensing and Controlling Places of Amusement (Other than Cinemas), 1960: Couples can be arrested if more than 10 couples dance together on a single platform.
4. The Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878: If you don’t file a report to police regarding any treasure (it can be Rs 10 as well), you can be sent to jail.
5. The Bengal Bonded Warehouse Association Act, 1838: The Act bars a special group from selling its property to anyone other than East India Company.
6. Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934: The preamble to the act governing the Reserve Bank of India confers on India’s central bank a “temporary” status, that continues even now.
7. The Official Secrets Act of 1923: Any civilian or bureaucrat can be sent behind bars for up to 14 years if he/she shares information related to government offices.
8. Indian Majority Act, 1875: A man can not get married before he turns 21. But he can become a father at the age of 18. Shocked? Yes, this law permits a man to adopt a child at the age of 18.
9. Indian Penal Code of 1860, Section 497: Married woman can have extra marital affairs and Indian judiciary cannot take any action against them. Legal actions can be taken against married men only and that too if they are having extra marital affairs with married women under offence of Adultry. If the married men are having affairs with unmarried girls/women, than it’s not illegal.
10. Serais Act, Act 22 of 1867: Any person can demand water, free of cost, from any hotel (it can be any luxurious hotels) at any time for himself or herself and for his/her pets or any animals. A fine of Rs 20 can be imposed on the person who refuses to follow the demand.
11. Section 309 of IPC: If you are attempting to commit suicide, then make sure you succeed in your attempt. In India, a person committing suicide is legal but if the person fails to do so, then attempting suicide is illegal! The person can be arrested for committing the crime.
12. Penalty For Third Child In Kerala: Do you know that China is not the only country in the world that has a strict child policy to arrest population growth? Even in Kerala there is a similar law. To enforce the two-child policy in the state, a penalty of Rs10,000 is imposed on parents who have a third child.
13. Home Delivery Of Alcoholic Beverage Is Illegal But Home Delivery Of Beer And Wine Legal In Delhi: In Delhi, the state law does not allow home delivery of alcoholic beverage. You have to buy it from the shop. However, you can order beer and wine from departmental stores to be delivered to your home.
Delivery of Beer
14. Legal Drinking varies across State Borders: In India as alcohol drinking is a state subject there is no uniform legal drinking age. The minimum age for consuming alcohol is 18 in Goa, Himachal Pradesh, UP, Sikkim and Puducherry and 25 in Maharashtra.
15. Show your Teeth To Become A Motor Vehicle Inspector: Although you may wonder what is the association between strong and beautiful teeth and the job of a motor vehicle inspector, in Andhra Pradesh only candidates with good teeth are recruited for the job.
16. Only Naga Regiment In Indian Army Can Use Knives During Combats: Indian soldiers cannot use knives during combats. However, soldiers from Nagaland can fight with their traditional knives.
17. Indian Telegraph Act: Although the Indian telegram service no longer exists, the country still has an Indian Telegraph Act, which was passed by the British government in 1885.
18. Salt Cess Act 1953: This one would have made Gandhi cry. It levies a cess on salt production. Has never been implemented because administrative costs are more than cess collectible.
19. The Hackney-Carriage Act, 1879: This regulates the design and speed of animal drawn carriages, taxis and other transport vehicles.
20. Elephants’ Preservation Act, Act 6 of 1879: The Act makes it an offence to kill, injure or capture wild elephants except in cases of self-defence, or in accordance with a licence granted under the Act. However, the Act imposes only an insignificant fine of Rs. 500 for its contravention, while a subsequent conviction attracts imprisonment for 6 months along with the fine.
21. Prostitution is legal but pimping is illegal.
22. Howrah Offences Act, Act 21 of 1857, Crime at Howrah: Commit a criminal offense in Kolkata’s Howrah suburb and the punishment could lawfully be more lenient than if you were caught for the same crime elsewhere in the country. This Act was enacted to prescribe penalties for various offences committed within the limits of Howrah, a suburb of Calcutta where the iconic Howrah Station is located. However, the Act lays down relatively insignificant sentences and fines while the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and other criminal laws have stricter penalties for the same offences.
23. Section 20 in The Factories Act, 1948: Spittoons—In every factory there shall be provided a sufficient number of spittoons in convenient places and they shall be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.
The State Government may make rules prescribing the type and the number of spittoons to be provided and their location in any factory and provide for such further matters relating to their maintenance in a clean and hygienic condition.
No person shall spit within the premises of a factory except in the spittoons provided for the purpose and a notice containing this provision and the penalty for its violation shall be prominently displayed at suitable places in the premises.
Whoever spits in contravention of sub-section (3) shall be punishable with fine not exceeding five rupees.
24. India passed the Leprosy Act in 1898 to ensure that leprosy patients did not face discrimination: India’s first leprosy case was detected way back in 600 BC; the disease is mentioned in the [I]Sushruta Samhita[/I] and other literary works of the Vedic period. Leprosy then was considered an infectious disease and leprosy patients faced social boycott. In some cases they were even murdered for fear of the disease spreading to other people in the locality.
25. A hundred years on, Indian laws and regulations still breed discremation.The historical legacy and societal stigma toward leprosy are evidenced by various laws containing discriminatory clauses against leprosy victims. Laws in the states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa prohibit leprosy patients from running in local elections. These laws have been supported by the national government, as evidenced when India’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the state of Orissa prohibiting leprosy patients from participating in local elections.
26. Motor Vehicle Act of 1939 which restricts leprosy patients from obtaining a driving license.
27. Indian Rail Act of 1990 which prohibits leprosy patients from traveling by train. Many of these laws were written before the development of multi-drug therapy (MDT) and they have not been updated since. For example, almost all of the marriage and divorce laws of India consider leprosy as grounds for divorce with the Special Marriage Act of 1954 declaring leprosy “incurable.” These laws do not reflect the current understanding of leprosy. Almost all the marriage and divorce laws of the country make leprosy grounds for divorce.
28. Special Marriage Act of 1954 declares leprosy “incurable”. Section 27 (g) of the Special Marriage Act of 1954 states: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, and to the rules made thereunder, a petition for divorce may be presented to the district court either by the husband or the wife on the ground that the respondent has for a period of not less than three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition been suffering from leprosy, the disease not having been contracted from the petitioner.”
Similarly, Section 2 (VI) of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939, states: “A woman married under Muslim law shall be entitled to obtain a decree for the dissolution of her marriage if the husband is suffering from leprosy.”
Section 13 (1) (IV) of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 states: “Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party has, for a period of not less than three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition, been suffering from a virulent and incurable form of leprosy.”
29. According to Section 36 (1) (H) of the Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act, any leprosy patient who spreads infection cannot become a member of the panchayat.
Section 16 (A) (5) of Orissa’s Municipal Act 1950 has similar provisions. Section 16 (1)(IV) of the Orissa Municipal Act 1950 states: “No person shall be qualified for election as a councillor of a municipality if such person has been adjudged by a competent court to be of unsound mind or is a leprosy or a tuberculosis patient.” Further, Section 17 (1) (b) of the said Act says: “Subject to the provisions of the section, a councillor shall cease to hold his office if he becomes of unsound mind, a leprosy or a tuberculosis patient.”
Section 25 (1) (e) of the Orissa Gram Panchayat Act states: “A person shall be disqualified for being elected or nominated as a sarpanch or any other member of the gram panchayat constituted under this Act if he is a deaf-mute or is suffering from tuberculosis or, in the opinion of the district leprosy officer, is suffering from an infectious type of leprosy.”
Section 26 (9) of the Rajasthan Municipality Act 1959 and Section 19 (F) of the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act 1994 declare leprosy patients ineligible to contest elections.
Section 19 (2) (B) of the Andhra Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act 1994 prohibits dumb and deaf people, along with leprosy patients, from becoming candidates in panchayat elections. The Act states: “A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as a member if on the date fixed for scrutiny of nominations for election, or on the date of nomination under sub-section (2) of Section 16 he is a deaf-mute or suffering from leprosy.” The Andhra Pradesh Municipalities Act says that a deaf-mute or a person suffering from leprosy shall be disqualified from the post of councillor.
Section 26 (1) (F) of the Karnataka Municipality Act 1976 also declares deaf and dumb people ineligible for municipal elections.
30. Bengal Bonded Warehouse Association Act, Act 5 of 1838: stipulate that only residents of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal can be the directors of the Bengal Bonded Warehouse Association and that the Association can sell its property only to the East India Company.
31. Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, Act 6 of 1886: The Act provides for the voluntary registration of the births and deaths of only certain classes of persons, mainly Christians and Parsis, along with those governed by the Indian Succession Act.
32. Sonthal Parganas Act, Act 37 of 1855: The Preamble to the Act states that ‘the general Regulations and Acts of Government now in force in the Presidency of Bengal are not adapted to the uncivilized race of people called Sonthals’. The Act cites this as the reason for removing from the operation of such laws the district inhabited by this tribe. The Act employs language to describe the tribal population that has no place in the modern era. The language of the Act runs contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.
33. Oriental Gas Company Act, Act 5 of 1857: This Act was enacted to confer certain monopolistic powers on the Oriental Gas Company (OGC), such as the power to lay down pipes in Calcutta for the purpose of manufacturing, supplying and distributing fuel gas. OGC was originally an English Company, which has now ceased to exist.
34. Calcutta Pilots Act, Act 12 of 1859: The Act envisages setting up a Court for the trial of pilots, who were employed in the Hooghly Pilot Service of the Port of Calcutta, and were accused of breach of duty. However, there is no evidence of such Courts being ever set up or cases reported to them under this Act.
35. Government Seal Act, Act 3 of 1862: It allowed the Seal of the local government to be used in place of the Seal of the East India Company, which initially ruled India.
36. Converts’ Marriage Dissolution Act, Act 21 of 1866: This Act was enacted to allow the dissolution of marriages of converts from Hinduism to Christianity, on the grounds that they have been deserted or repudiated on religious grounds by spouse. It enables divorce proceedings to be initiated by the converted person, not his or her spouse.
37. Punjab Laws Act, Act 4 of 1872: The Act declares which of certain laws are to have effect in Punjab and Delhi. It also validates local customs, establishes local watchmen and grants the power to raise local taxes to pay the police.
38. Foreign Recruiting Act, Act 4 of 1874: This Act empowered the Government to issue an order that prevented the recruitment of Indians by a foreign State.
39. Dramatic Performances Act, Act 19 of 1876: The Act empowers the State Government to prohibit performances that are scandalous, defamatory or likely to excite feelings of disaffection. Disobeying such prohibitions attracts penalties. It was enacted during the colonial era and extensively used to curb nationalist sentiments propagated through dramatic performances. It has no place in a modern democratic society.
40. Reformatory Schools Act, Act 8 of 1897: The Act was enacted to amend the law relating to reformatory schools and to make further provisions for dealing with ‘youthful offenders’. It gives the power to establish Reformatory Schools, inspect them, and for courts to direct youthful offenders to these schools. This Act may be in conflict with Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it only applicable to boy under the age of 15 and not to girls.
41. Delhi Hotels (Control of Accommodation) Act, Act 24 of 1949: This Act grants the Director of Estates the power to reserve up to one-fourth of the total accommodation available in certain private hotels in Delhi for use by government officials.
42. Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, Act 45 of 1956: This Act was enacted to provide for the regulation of the prices charged for newspapers in relation to their pages so as to prevent unfair competition among newspapers. Section 3 of the Act empowered the Central Government to make orders providing for the regulation of the prices charged for newspapers in relation to their maximum or minimum number of pages, sizes or areas and for the space to be allotted for advertisements. Section 3 was struck down in Sakal Papers Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India [AIR 1962 SC 305] for violating Article 19(1)(a).
One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aims is to rid India of a “maze of useless laws”. “If every day I can get rid of one old law, I will be most happy,” Mr. Modi said in a speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden in September.
Law Commission of India, Report No. 248 says “Every legislature is expected to undertake what may be called the periodical spring-clearing of the corpus of its Statute Law, in order that dead wood may be removed and citizens may be spared of the inconvenience of taking notice of laws which have ceased to bear any relevance to current conditions. This process in itself, assumes still greater importance in modern times when Statue 3 Law is growing in bulk and magnitude….”.