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What do you mean by Counterproductive Law?

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  • Last Updated : 09 Jan, 2023
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When the Government of India passes any law that has an untoward effect on society, it is known as counterproductive law. In simple words, counterproductive law means any legal changes done by the government in the country which was meant to have some kind of effect in the country but the result was just opposite to the original law that was passed by the government. 

Examples of Counterproductive Laws

Example 1

The government has passed a law for improved safety measures in vehicles which stimulates people to drive faster.

Example 2

There are many states that have banned people having more than two children from contesting in Panchayat elections. Due to this many poor people and women have lost the opportunity to compete in panchayat elections.

Example 3

In India, the marital age of women has been changed from 18 to 21 years. This law has been considered counterproductive by many critics. Critics opposing this law lay down the fact that most of these girls are from marginalized communities and it won’t stop the families from getting their daughters married; it will just criminalize the marginalized communities. Young daughters get married in what type of families? They belong to the marginal sections of society who aren’t sent to school. 

The marriage age was increased for girls from 15 to 18 years In 1978. Even after 40 years, the percentage of Underage marriages is 23 percent, which is a large number. Critics point out that this criminal law won’t stop child marriages. To prevent it, we need to improve the socioeconomic conditions of marginalized communities. The Government of India also needs to create good and affordable schools in such communities so that the girls can receive a good education and become stronger in education as well as economically. 

Example 4

Alcohol is prohibited in the states of Bihar, Nagaland, Gujarat, and Mizoram. This law prohibiting alcohol within these states has been counterproductive in nature. On the ground level, People find illegal ways to purchase alcohol in these states. Extreme policies of prohibition have never worked. One of the reasons prohibition fails when there is no legitimate alcohol is because illegal alcohol which is produced locally takes its place. It does not contribute to the state’s coffers as well. 

Even in the US, During the prohibition era when alcohol consumption went up, so did the crimes associated with bootlegging. In India, a well-intentioned but unwise decision to ban alcohol by Morarji Desai in the Bombay Presidency in the early 1950s was the major cause of the growth of the smuggling syndicates and the likes of Karim Lala, Haji Mastan, Vardarajan Mudaliar and many more who were the founding fathers of the Mumbai underworld. Due to the ban on alcohol in Bihar, there is an influx of alcohol in it from neighboring states. The Government is nurturing an attitude of disrespect towards the law in people by prohibiting alcohol. A nuanced approach must be taken by the Govt of India which involves a proper regulation of alcohol along with enforcement of health perspectives and legislation wherever needed.

Other Counterproductive Laws in India

The Cow Protection Act

This law was passed in 1978 after a cow drank so much water in one day that it died. The law prohibits cows from drinking more than 2/3 cupfuls of water per day. The law was intended to ensure that cattle did not die from thirst in India’s hot climate, but it actually caused many more deaths by restricting their access to water.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

This act bans “cruelty” against animals but does not define what constitutes cruelty. It also allows people who have been accused of animal abuse to go unpunished if they can prove that they did not intend to hurt their animals or cause them any pain. Many animal advocates believe this law does nothing more than encourage cruelty against animals because it allows people who abuse animals with impunity until proven guilty.

Hindu Marriage Act of 1955

This act was passed after a political dispute between Congress and the Muslim League. The Act prevented marriages between Hindus and Muslims. It also provided for the cancellation of marriages that were performed in contravention of this law. This law led to many cases of interfaith marriages being dissolved and resulted in some people losing their jobs due to their religious affiliation

FAQs on Counterproductive Law

Question 1: How do we know if a law is counterproductive?


We can tell if a law has been deemed counterproductive by looking at its effects on citizens who want to participate in government, on citizens who want to organize themselves into groups, or on citizens who want to share their opinions with other people through writing letters and petitions. If these groups find it difficult or impossible to participate in those activities because their abilities are curtailed by the law, then it’s likely that the law was counterproductive.

Question 2: What is the difference between a law that is ineffective, and a law that is counterproductive?


A law that is ineffective will be something like a restriction on the amount of sugar that can be added to soft drinks. That’s not going to have much effect on the population, but it makes sense as a policy. On the other hand, a law that is counterproductive might be something like a ban on texting while driving—which makes no sense at all from an efficiency standpoint.

Question 3: How did the government come up with the idea of implementing counterproductive laws?


There are many factors that led to the development of counterproductive laws in India. The first factor is the lack of trust between citizens and the government. In this case, citizens do not trust the government to make good decisions and they believe that they will not be able to achieve their desired goals. Another factor is corruption in India. Corruption has been found throughout all levels of society including politicians, police officers, and even judges who are supposed to be impartial and fair.

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