Merits and demerits of codification of laws



According to the dictionary meaning “code” means a systematic collection of statutes, body of law, so arranged as to avoid overlapping and inconsistency. By legislation, sometimes a new law is made, sometimes, a custom or a usage is embodied in a statute, and it is put in a coherent and systematic form. The law placed in this kind is called code. The law creating and putting it in this form is called codification. Thus, codification suggests that promulgation, compilation, assortment associated with the systematization of the body of law in a coherent form by an authority in a state competent to do so.

History of codes:

Codes were existed since the ancient times. In India, code of Manu was the ancient code. There were various codes which were applied in different parts of the country. They are very important because the modern codes have been evolved from these codes.

According to Salmond, The reduction of whole corpus juis, so far as practicable to from enacted law.

Conditions for codification:

For codification, certain background and certain social development are necessary. There are certain conditions which led to the codification. Roscoe Pound had laid down the following important conditions which lead to codification:

1) The exhaustion for the time being of the possibilities of juristic development of existing legal materials or in other words, where the legal institutions have become completely mature, or where the country has no juristic past,
2) The unwieldiness, uncertainty and archaic character of the existing law,
3) The development of an efficient organ of legislation,
4) The need for one uniform law in a political community whose several sub-divisions had developed or received divergent local laws.

Codification in India:

In India, during medieval period people were governed by their personal law and customs. Under the provisions of the Charter Act of 1833 the First Indian Law commission was appointed with Lord Macaulay as its Chairman. They drafted a number of codes such as Indian Penal code, the Civil Procedure Code, and the Indian Limitation Act. Later on, the Criminal Procedure Code and some other acts were drafted and passed. With the introduction of legislatures in Provinces and the Centre the Codification was expedited. India is an undeveloped and economically backward country facing a lot of problem. Planning has been resorted to for a comprehensive development of the country.

Thus, in India though much has been done towards codification, there still remains more to be done.

Classification of Codes:

Creative: creative code is that code which makes a law for the first time without any reference to any other laws. It is law-making by legislation.
Consolidating: is that code which consolidates the whole law- statutory, customary and precedent, on particular subject and declares it.
Creative and consolidating: The codes which make law as well as consolidate the existing law on a particular subject fall under this class.

Merits of codification:

1) Certainty – By Codification, law becomes certain. It no longer remains vague and uncertain as it generally in precedent and custom.
2) Simplicity: The codification makes law simple and by the way of simplicity it makes it easy and accessible to everybody. By code anyone can know the law on a particular point. This enables the citizens to know their rights and duties and thus greatly helps the administration of justice.
3) Logical arrangement: In code, law is logically arranged in a coherent form. There are little chances of any conflict arising among the different provisions of the law. Thus, the law is coordinated and systematized in the code.
4) Stability: The codification makes the law stable. The law which comes into existence by the way of other sources has not that much of stability. Stability is very essential for law so that the people may have confidence in it and the legal transaction may be made easily and smoothly.
5) Unity: The codification is an instrument of forging unity among the people. Codified laws have uniform and wider application. Thus it helps in creating unity and integration in a country.
6) Planned development: The planned development in a country is possible only through codification. A nation cannot make the desired divergent ways. By codification there comes uniformity and the desired development is speedily achieved.

Demerits of codification:

1) Rigidity: The codification causes rigidity in the law. It is essential that the law must keep up with the time and should change itself to new conditions. When the law once it is codified, there will be a little scope that there maybe a little change. When the law is codified, the only way of changing it is through the way of amendments. Generally, it is not easy and it takes time. Hence, codification gives rigidity to law.
2) Incompleteness: The codes are generally incomplete. It is not possible to expect all the problems that might arise in the future. Therefore, provisions cannot be made for them in code. Thus, by this way the code is incomplete. Thus, in regard with the law, the indefiniteness and uncertainty happens.
3) Hardship: The code generally provides uniform laws, which are applicable to all present within the territory or part of it. The application rarely views on the grounds which say about the customs, convictions and that even includes the habits of the people.
4) Defective codes: Certain defects are bounded in a code. They cannot be removed and it can be removed by the legislative amendment. This causes great delay and inconvenience. Hence, the defects of a code remain for a very long time.


Codification has undoubtedly some demerits but they are very insignificant in comparison with the merits it has. Codification causes planned idea of development. It enables the law to fulfil the purpose for which it has been set for. Codification has become imperative. Therefore, it is the most potent means of legal development and that is why it has been adopted all over the world. From the aspect of India, two things must be kept: First, in India, one of the most important purposes of law reform should be the unification of laws. Second, there must be harmony between the law Commission, the legislature and the courts.

Author: Saba banu,
Pendekanti law college, 3rd year BA LLB student

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