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:
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.
Aniruddh is a Senior Resident Fellow with the Legal Design and Regulation Team. His research interests lie at the intersection of law, technology and political economy, focusing on issues of platform governance and data protection. Aniruddh graduated from the National Law School, Bangalore in 2019. He has interned at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, Delhi, and was a Research Affiliate at the Quality of Governance project at IIM, Bangalore. In his spare time, he enjoys reading critical theory and playing video games.
Pragya is a Research Fellow working in the area of Legal Design and Regulation at Vidhi. Prior to joining Vidhi, she has worked as a Legal Assistant at the Law and Legislative Department of the Government of Chhattisgarh where her main work pertained to regulatory compliance and drafting of State rules and statutes. She also worked on policy research, inter-departmental disputes and government contracts. Pragya has also worked as an editor at The Feminist Times, as a law coach at Lex Templum and as an intern at India Institute, a think tank based in Delhi. She graduated from Hidayatullah Law University, Raipur in 2018 with a B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) and finished her LL.M. in Constitutional Law from National Law University Odisha in 2020. Her areas of interest are sex-offender registry and its civil regulations, privacy law, therapeutic jurisprudence, post-colonial intersectional feminist studies and trade law. She is an avid reader and has keen interest in dystopian and fantasy literature.
Lakshita is a Research Fellow at Vidhi, New Delhi working in the area of Legal Design and Regulation. Prior to joining Vidhi, Lakshita graduated with B.A.LLB. (Hons.) from the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala in 2020 and obtained her LLM degree in international law from the University of Cambridge in 2021. During her time at Cambridge, she worked as a researcher for the Cambridge ProBono Project wherein she conducted extensive research on the enforced disappearance of women.
Kartavi is a research fellow working with the Legal Design and Regulation Team. She completed her B.Sc. LLB (Intellectual Property Hons.) from National Law University Jodhpur in 2018 and obtained her LLM degree from National University of Singapore in 2022. Prior to joining Vidhi, she also worked as a Legal Researcher at the Delhi High Court where she worked on matters ranging from service law and IPR disputes to constitutional law. Her research interests lie in the areas of access to justice, technology policy and digital divide, climate change policy and education. Kartavi also enjoys theatre, cinema and asian literature.
Sunetra is a Senior Resident Fellow and leads Vidhi's work on Legal Design and Regulation. She primarily handles engaged and commissioned projects from various ministries, statutory authorities and regulators, where she provides legal research and drafting support at various stages of law-making. At Vidhi, she has worked with ministries such as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Department of Consumer Affairs. Her current projects at Vidhi include reforms in the area of digital economy, privacy law, data protection as well as healthcare systems and consumer protection. She has also written for The Indian Express and Firstpost.
Sunetra graduated with B.A, LL. B (Hons) from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad in 2012. Subsequently, she worked at AZB& Partners, Bangalore for two years, where her work primarily involved general corporate matters, employment law and litigation. Thereafter, she obtained her LL.M in Intellectual Property Law from George Washington University, Washington D.C. in 2015.
Rakshita is a Research Fellow with the Legal Design and Regulation team. Rakshita graduated from National Law University, Jodhpur with a B.A., LL.B. (Hons.). Prior to joining Vidhi, she has worked at the Centre for Policy Research and PRS Legislative Research. Her research areas have involved federal water governance, and health, technology and environment laws. She is broadly interested in understanding the social, political and economic contexts behind the law and how systems can be designed to better fit these contexts.
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