The SARAL Manual

A principle-based approach to plain language drafting in India.

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has prepared ‘The SARAL Manual: A plain language drafting manual for better laws’. This manual is an update to the Vidhi Manual on Plain Language Drafting published in 2017. It continues Vidhi’s engagement with the idea of drafting simple and effective laws. The SARAL Manual builds on the work of the 2017 manual and intends to compile learnings from the past five years to develop a more comprehensive, holistic approach toward legal drafting.

Laws in India are characterised by the use of archaic terms, legal jargon, and convoluted sentences. This language has come to be known as ‘legalese’, and pervades Indian legislation. The objective of this manual is to provide an actionable guide for the elimination of legalese from Indian laws. The manual, therefore, develops a system of principles for drafting laws in plain language guided by the vision of achieving SARAL: Simple, Accessible, Rational, and Actionable Laws.

Based on these factors, the manual develops the SARAL Checklist, a practical guide to ensuring that laws are drafted in plain language. The values and principles which underlie the SARAL Checklist are identified in the visual below:

Values and core principles of SARAL

What is the purpose of the SARAL Manual?

  • Provides an understanding of the current practices of legal drafting 
  • Provides information on the lacunae in the approaches of drafting that this manual intends to address
  • Provides a system of SARAL principles to anchor the manual’s approach to legal drafting

Who can use the SARAL Manual?

  • The manual aims to be useful for professionals responsible for drafting laws in India and for the average person to understand laws. 
  • The manual aims to be useful to various Ministries and Departments of the Government of India and State Governments to draft bills, rules, regulations and notifications.
  • This manual will help the adoption of plain language drafting practices in the Indian legal context.

Inviting public feedback on the SARAL Manual

As noted above, the objective of the manual is to encourage the use of SARAL drafting principles and practices to make Indian laws simple, accessible, rational and actionable.

With the manual at its core, Vidhi will engage with a broad set of stakeholders to advance the notion of plain language drafting in India. The SARAL Initiative will be a hub for coordinating action amongst lawyers, students, academic institutions, governments, and other professionals for this purpose.

To this end, Vidhi seeks feedback, comments and opinions from the public to help refine the vision, purpose and ideas of SARAL. We invite comments and opinions on the SARAL Manual: A plain language drafting manual for better laws. Record your comments on the Manual in this document.