Since the beginning of time, India has created laws for every little ray that shines her way. These laws are rendered redundant largely due to its sheer displacement from the time and space they continue to operate in–one that is itself marred by several institutional mismatches, such as a judicial process that works like snail mail trying to catch up with and fit in an express world. The laws formulated earlier have lost their relevance not because of their inherent substantive absurdity but rather, because they have failed to keep up with the constant changes that their operative context has undergone and continues to undergo–be it social, political, economic or cultural. Keeping in mind the circumstances, here’s a list of obsolete Indian laws you probably never knew existed.
I. Dispatch In Despair, The Indian Post Office Act, 1898
According to this act, the exclusive privilege of conveying letters is reserved for the government. In other words, only the Indian government has the legal right to deliver such documents. And if we were to follow up on this archaic law, the country’s entire courier industry might be deemed illegal, and common citizens wouldn’t even be allowed to tie a note to a well-trained pigeon.
II. Five Star Freebie, The Indian Sarais Act, 1887
For all those broke college students caught wandering around looking for a clean and free bathroom to use, would a five star one do? According to this 148-year-old Act, any individual reserves the right to enter a five star hotel and soak in its dazzling lavishness, as well as use their washrooms for free or even ask for a drink of water. Further, refusal could amount to a fine of 20 rupees, so keep this is mind the next time you’re nervous to step into the Taj for a quick toilet run.
III. Find A Rupee, Don’t Pick It Up? The Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878
While ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ might have applied on school grounds, it would be wise to abandon that particular rhyme in the real world. According to this 137-year-old law, whenever any treasure exceeding the monetary value of 10 rupees is found, the finder is required by law to report the lost treasure to the Collector.
IV. PERMISSION TO PROCREATE? The Kerala Women’s Code Bill, 2011
Just like China, Kerala is enforcing a two-child policy in the state, in order to arrest population growth. Now, a third child can land you in jail or penalty of Rs10, 000 will be imposed should you have a third child. V. The Fault In Our Kites Indian Aircraft Act, 1934 While Indian festivals and leisurely activities boasts of colourful kites soaring across the sky on a string, this beloved indulgence isn’t all too legal. According to this Act, a kite, like a balloon, is considered an ‘aircraft’, implying that you need a special permit to possess or fly a kite legally.
VI. THE GREAT INDIAN TRAGEDY Section 309 of IPC
If you are attempting suicide, then ensure that you succeed. In India, committing suicide is legal but failure to do so, puts you behind bars, as attempting to suicide is illegal! The person can be arrested for committing the crime. In short, the Indian government is pretty much like Indian parents, they don’t like failures.
VII. Sparkling White Will Get You Noticed Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1914
Can you ever imagine being disqualified from a potential job for not having sparkling white teeth? To add to that list of elimination criteria, even a pigeon chest, flat feet, knock knees and hammer toes are sound grounds for disqualification. While some might think we’re referring to the criteria of a beauty pageant contestant, surprisingly enough, these are the mandatory qualifications for anyone aspiring to be a Motor Vehicle Inspector in Andhra Pradesh. If this were a requirement of a beauty pageant, it would still be more believable. But surprisingly, this is one of the mandatory criteria, if you aspire to be a Motor Vehicle Inspector in Andhra Pradesh.
VIII. Words are power Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956
This law was brought into effect, in order to prevent young minds from being exposed to certain publications that are considered detrimental in nature. A harmful publication is one that supposedly broadcasts pictures and stories which depict corruption, violence, cruelty and “repulsive” behaviors. The discretion to interpret the abovementioned words rests completely with the state enforcement agencies ensuring that their whimsical and wide understanding is reflected. For example, earlier this year, the police in southern Kerala raided shops selling Bob Marley’s shirts on the grounds that they encouraged youngsters to consume drugs and charged the shopkeeper under this law. Read: Akhilesh Kumar’s Selfless Deed For Two Street Children, Translated Into English