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Doctrine is an important rule or a set of rules that is widely followed and is usually applied and upheld by courts of law. Also In Indian Constitutional law, there are different judicial doctrines that developed over time as per the interpretation (व्याख्या) given by the judiciary.
In this article, we will be dealing with some important Indian Judicial Doctrines.
Doctrine of Severability
Article 13 declares any pre constitutional law which is inconsistent with the Fundamental Rights as void to the extent of its inconsistency. It must be observed that Article 13 does not make the entire act inoperative, but only that part is held inoperative which is inconsistent with the fundamental rights.
Doctrine of severability says that when some provisions of an act are inconsistent with the fundamental rights and if such provisions can be severed (cut off) from the rest of the statute, then only the offending provision or the invalid portion would be declared void by the court and not the entire act.
So, it can be concluded that if the inconsistent part of a statute can be severed in a way that the consistent part can exist independently, the doctrine of severability can be applied to such statutes.
Note: If the valid and invalid part are so closely mixed up with each other that it cannot be separated then the whole law or act will be held invalid.
Doctrine of Eclipse
The doctrine of eclipse is based on a principle that the law which contravenes Fundamental Rights is not void ab initio. It remains in a morbid condition/inactive state and unenforceable. It is not totally wiped out from the statute book. They are valid for all past transactions i.e. transactions prior to commencement of the Constitution. They also remain valid for the determination of rights of persons who have not been given fundamental rights by the Constitution i.e. Non-citizens.
Till that time, the law violates the fundamental right, it remains dormant, but if by an amendment such law no more violates the fundamental rights, then the law becomes alive and operative. The Doctrine of the Eclipse applies to all those acts which were in existence before our Indian Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950. And now they are inconsistent with fundamental Rights.
In the case of Bhikaji Narain Dhakras v. State of M.P.
The issue before the court was that if an existing act that has been made before the constitution came into existence has become inconsistent with the fundamental rights on commencement of the constitution, then can it become valid again if there comes any amendment which removes such inconsistency.
The court held that the effect of the amendment is that it removes the shadow and makes the impugned (opposive) act free from inconsistency. The law therefore becomes valid after the constitutional impediment (बाधा) is removed.
Note: Doctrine of eclipse is contained in Article 13(1) of the Indian Constitution. The doctrine of eclipse does not apply to post-constitutional laws.
Doctrine of Waiver
An individual exercises certain rights that are conferred upon him either by the Constitution, statute or a contract. Any right gives the individual the power to control the act of others, i.e. to make someone commit or omit an act.
The doctrine of Waiver of rights is based on the idea that a person is his best judge and he has the liberty to waive the enjoyment of such rights which are conferred on him by the State. However, the person must have the knowledge of his rights and that the waiver should be made voluntary.
Waiving a right means that a person can no longer claim that right and is prevented from challenging the constitutionality of that law for the benefit of which the right is waived off.
In India, a person has the authority to waive off rights arising out of a contract or statute but cannot relinquish (give up) those constitutional rights or rights guaranteed by the constitution itself under Part III which is made in the public interest.
Doctrine of Judicial Review
The concept of judicial review evolved in America from the case of Marbury v. Madison.
The power of judicial review is the power of the court i.e. Supreme Court and the High courts under which they check the constitutionality of the act passed by the Legislature.
The power of judicial review has not been expressly mentioned in the constitution but it is implicit in article 13 and many other articles of the constitution.
Being the custodian of the constitution and the final interpreter, the Supreme Court has been given the power of judicial review under article 13. This power has not only been provided to the Supreme court under article 32 but also to high courts under article 226.
With this power the Supreme Court and the high court can declare any act passed by the legislature as unconstitutional which is conflicting with the fundamental rights of the citizens.
In the case of Kesvananda Bharati v. State of Kerala 1973
Justice Khanna said that the power of Judicial review is not limited to only deciding Whether the legislative bodies have worked within the boundaries of certain legislative list in making the required law but it is necessary whether the laws have been made in accordance with the articles of the constitution and they do not violate any other provision of the constitution.
Doctrine of reasonable classification and absence of arbitrariness
Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees the right to equality to all persons. The right to equality under this Article does not mean that every law must have universal/equal application to all persons, if they are in a different position in society.
The principle behind the right to equality is that the equals must be treated equally while unequal’s must be treated differently. The different classes of people require different treatment as their needs are different and hence we must reasonably differentiate between those who are equal and those who are different.
Example: if person X is 5 years old and Y is 25 years old they both have different requirements. So both of them cannot be treated equally in the eyes of law or even in the society because if they will be treated equally it will be injustice.
Therefore the doctrine of reasonable classification came into existence. The apex court of the country has many a time discussed the scope and reasonableness of this classification and has laid down certain tests for determining whether a classification made under Article 14 of the Constitution is reasonable or arbitrary.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”. It can easily be conferred from this provision that no one is above the law of the land and the Rule of Law shall prevail before anything.
The first part of Article 14 of the Constitution i.e., “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law.” means every person should be treated equally before law without any discrimination on the ground of status, position, race, caste etc.
The second part of Article 14 i.e., “the equal protection of laws within the territory of India” is a result of the first part. It means that the Government can make laws operating differently on different groups or classes of persons to achieve particular objectives, but the classification made is reasonable and free from arbitrariness.
For example: Women’s reservation has been provided to uplift their standard as to make them stand equal to men in the society as they have suffered a lot in the past.
The Supreme Court of India has never been hesitant in applying the theory of Reasonable Classification while determining the constitutional validity of any legislation/law under Article 14 of the Constitution.
Moreover, in order to implement some welfare schemes and for the development of particular classes of people(like women, workers, children etc.) the state may sometimes come up with laws that deal differently with different classes of people, the Doctrine of Reasonable classification is thus important in this respect. But, at the same time, the Courts and the Government must ensure that such classification is reasonable and free from any arbitrariness.
These are some of the important doctrines we have discussed above. As we know that the Indian constitution has a very unique character, it evolves in response to societal requirements. These doctrines have developed with the changing time in response to changing circumstances and is very helpful in the interpretation of the statutes.