Sunset Clause - Types, Importance, Usage in India

In this article, you can read all about Sunset Clause, which is a concept in public policy. It is important to understand these terms and concepts for IAS exam polity and governance segments. A sunset clause or provision is a measure within a law, regulation or statute that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless the law is extended by legislative action. Most laws do not have this clause and hence, remain in force indefinitely.It is also called ‘periodic review’ of the law/statute. The chief reason behind having the sunset clause is to prevent legislative inertia from setting in. This way, unwanted laws will not accumulate.

Aspirants would find this topic very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Sunset Clause in India

  1. Sunset clause have been regularly used in India in tax and fiscal laws (like in tax holidays and regulations for exchange control).
  2. The Constitution provides for a ten-year sunset for reservations to the legislative assembly and Parliament seats through its Article 334.

Importance of Sunset Clause

  1. The concept of the sunset clause is an acknowledgement by lawmakers that the law is not indefinite and is not made for eternity. It is an admission that circumstances change over time and that the laws of the land should reflect this.
  2. It should also be understood that institutional behaviour and social circumstances also change over time and the need arises to revisit laws.
  3. Sunset clause will help in achieving a periodic review of laws and regulations. A renewal at the end of a time period is needed because situations keep on changing in society.
  4. The provision of such a clause could also encourage lawmakers to push for and implement such new laws that have limited negatives/downside to them.

Sunset Clause usage Globally

  1. The USA, the UK and Germany have been using sunset clauses for the past twenty years.
  2. It is said that one of the founding fathers of the USA, Thomas Jefferson had suggested to another founding father James Madison that, the US Constitution should be terminated after a period of nineteen years so as not to burden the future generations with the past.

Sunset Clause Types

  1. Sunset Clause: Clause specific to certain laws or provisions saying that the law will expire after a particular date.
  2. Sunset Law: An omnibus law that provides for the expiry of all other laws after a certain date.
  3. Reauthorisation: Clause that warrant a review and renewal of certain laws after a time period.

 

Candidates can refer to the Previous Year’s Questions on Constitution of India in UPSC Mains GS 2, from the linked article.

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