Here’s About Indian Judicial Doctrines


Judicial doctrines, which are frequently developed through precedent in the common law, are essentially a set of rules, procedures, or tests for arriving at judgments in a particular legal case. 

Judicial Doctrine - Concept

•    A judicial doctrine is a framework, collection of rules, course of action, or standard for arriving at decisions in a particular legal topic that is typically developed through common law precedent.
•    When a court renders a decision establishing and enforcing a procedure, it establishes a doctrine that may be used in similar situations in the future. If enough judges follow the system, it can end up being the standard method for deciding cases that are comparable.
•    Famous concepts that are commonly applied when passing judgments include: 

The doctrine of Colorable Legislation

•    It is supported by the concept of power separation. A power balance between the various state components must be achieved in order to achieve separation of powers.
•    The idea behind it is "what can't be done directly, can't be done indirectly."
•    When a legislature indirectly passes legislation on a subject even if it lacks the authority to do so, it is referred to as colorable legislation.
•    The Court has established certain criteria for determining whether a specific Act qualifies as colorable legislation.
•    The court must look at the actual text of the law as it was passed by the legislature, not its form or title.
•    The law's effect and intent must both be taken into account by the court.
•    If the legislature implements a legislative plan, the court must examine every act that constitutes the plan and determine the overall impact.
•    The Supreme Court stated in the case of R.S. Joshi v. Ajit Mills (1977) that "In the statute of force, the colorable exercise of, or extortion on administrative force, or misrepresentation on the constitution, are articulations which only imply that the assembly is clumsy to authorize a specific law, although the mark of competency is struck on it, and thereafter it is colorable enactment."

The pith and substance doctrine

•    The argument that one level of authority (federal or provincial) has infringed on another level of government's exclusive jurisdiction is used when a law is challenged.
•    This idea states that in order to determine where it belongs on the list, it is analyzed to determine its "true nature and character."
•    It offers a certain amount of adaptability. It is frequently used to determine whether the state has the authority to enact legislation pertaining to a topic listed on the union list of the constitution.

Relevance of the doctrine

•    The Doctrine of Pith and Substance is utilized in cases involving repugnance in laws issued by the Parliament and state legislatures (Article 254), in addition to its use in cases involving the competence of the legislature (Article 246).
•    In such situations, the idea is applied to iron out discrepancies between federal legislation and state legislature-passed laws.
•    The Supreme Court ruled in Prafulla v. Bank of Commerce (1946) that a State legislation governing money lending (a State matter) is not unconstitutional merely because it also affects promissory notes.

Incidental or ancillary powers doctrine

•    This notion adds to the notion of Pith and Substance.
•    It goes without saying that the power to legislate on a subject requires the ability to legislate on matters that are at least linked to it.

Relevance of the Doctrine

•    Article 4 discusses the authority to make supplementary and incidental changes to the legislation that are consequential to the law allowing for changing the names of states under Articles 2 and 3.
•    According to Article 169, the legislature has the authority to abolish or create Legislative Councils in states "as may be necessary to give effect to the provisions of the law and may also contain such supplemental, incidental, and consequential provisions as Parliament may deem necessary."
•    In State of Rajasthan v. G Chawla (1958), the Supreme Court made a ruling. Said that "The right to legislate on an ancillary matter which can be considered to be legitimately contained in that topic carries with it the ability to legislate on a topic of legislation,”

The doctrine of Basic Structure

•    According to the basic structure idea, the Indian Constitution has some fundamental elements that cannot be changed or eliminated by parliamentary modifications.
•    The judiciary has not properly established the fundamental principles of the Indian Constitution. Based on the precedents, the Court determines whether a certain characteristic of the Constitution qualifies as a "basic" feature.

Relevance of the Doctrine

•    In the Kesavananda Bharati case from 1973, the Supreme Court of India for the first time ruled that the parliament has the authority to modify any part of the constitution, but not the "fundamental structure of the constitution."
•    In the 1975 case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, the Supreme Court upheld it once more.
•    The Supreme Court ruled that a provision of the 39th Amendment Act (1975) that exempted from court review election-related matters involving the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha was unconstitutional.
•    The basic structure idea was supported in the Minerva Mills case from 1980 and then in the Waman Rao case from 1981.
•    The legality of Articles 31A and 31B of the Constitution was taken into consideration by the Supreme Court in this case.

The doctrine of harmonious construction

Here’s About Indian Judicial Doctrines
•    The notion of harmonic construction is used to statutory interpretation in the Indian legal system. It is believed that when two legal provisions appear to conflict, they should be interpreted so that each has its own significance and that none is duplicated or negated.
•    It creates harmony amongst the numerous lists mentioned in Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution.
•    The Supreme Court outlined five key elements in the case CIT v. Hindustan Bulk Carriers, and they are as follows:
o    The competing clauses must be interpreted in a way that harmonizes them in order for the courts to avoid a dispute between them.
o    Unless the court is unable to resolve the discrepancies between the provisions of the two sections despite its best efforts, they cannot be utilized against one another.
o    The courts must interpret conflicting clauses when their differences are difficult to reconcile such that both provisions have the most weight possible.
o    Additionally, the courts must remember that an interpretation that renders a clause meaningless or ambiguous is not a harmonious construction.
o    No statutory provision is destroyed or rendered useless by harmonization.

Relevance of the Doctrine

•    In the 1951 Re-Kerala education bill case, it was established that the court must take the directing principle into account and use the harmonious construction idea while making decisions involving basic rights. Thus, two possibilities are given the most possible impact by striking a balance.
•    An Act must be read in its totality, with all of its sections being equally weighed and harmonized, according to the ruling in the case of East India Hotels Ltd. v. Union of India (2001).

Doctrine of Eclipses

•    A law that breaches fundamental rights does not automatically become null and void, rather it just becomes unenforceable, according to the Doctrine of Eclipse.
•    It has gone inactive and overshadowed by Fundamental Rights, but it is still alive.
•    According to Article 13(1) of the Indian Constitution, any laws that were in force on Indian soil prior to the adoption of this Constitution, to the extent that they conflict with the provisions of this Part, will be null and void.
•    According to the eclipse doctrine, a law that violates a basic right is not fully dead even though it has been inactive since the constitution's creation.
•    The conflict can be settled by altering the relevant fundamental freedoms in the constitution, which would cause the eclipse to pass and the entire legislation to gain legitimacy. The first instance of this doctrine's use was in Bhikaji v. State of Madhya Pradesh.

Relevance of the Doctrine

•    The Central Provinces and Berar Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1947, which gave the provincial government the authority to take over the entire provincial motor transport business in violation of article 19(1)(g), was the first to be used in India in Bhikaji Narain Dhakras v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1955).

The Doctrine of Severability 

•    It is often referred to as the doctrine of separability. As stated in Article 13(1) of the Constitution, "any laws in existence in India prior to the commencement of the Constitution that are inconsistent with the provisions of fundamental rights shall be void to the extent of that contradiction." it protects our fundamental rights.
•    Only those parts of the law or act, however that do not violate the Fundamental Rights would be deemed illegal.
•    The entire legislation or act will be deemed invalid if the valid and invalid parts are intertwined so closely that they cannot be distinguished.

Relevance of the Doctrine

•    In A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950), the Supreme Court stated that if there is a constitutional inconsistency, only the disputed portion of the Act will be invalid, not the entire Act, and that every effort should be made to preserve as much of the Act as possible.

The territorial nexus theory

•    As long as there is a relationship between the state and the legislation's goal, Article 245 specifies that state laws must be made on the territory of the state and not in relation to extraterritorial law.
•    According to Article 245. (2), such legislation are extraterritorial and hence cannot be deemed to be unlawful. This idea is used to determine whether a specific piece of legislation falls under the territorial nexus or not.

Relevance of the Doctrine

•    In A.H. Wadia v. Income Tax Commissioner (1948), it was determined that a Supreme Legislative Authority could never be sued for violating an extraterritorial law on the grounds of its legality.
•    In State of Bombay v. RMDC (1952), the Supreme Court found that there was a significant territorial nexus that justified the Bombay Legislature's right to tax the respondent because the majority of the rival's activities are anticipated to take place within Bombay.

The Parens patriae Doctrine

•    Parens patriae is the legal term denoting the state's authority to step in and safeguard a child, person, or animal in need of protection from an abusive or neglectful parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker.
•    Some kids, incompetent people, and crippled persons, for instance, lack parents who can and will give them the care they need, necessitating the aid of the state.
•    For the first time in India, the Uttarakhand court utilized the "parens patriae" defense to defend cows. 


The Indian constitution is distinctive in that it changes as a result of societal demands. Over time and in reaction to shifting conditions, these beliefs evolve. Doctrines make the constitution more adaptable, enabling it to take into account the varied traits of a dynamic community.

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