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Friday, October 28, 2011

Q. What do you understand by the ‘Doctrine of Pith and Substance’?

Ans. The Constitution has made elaborate provisions to separate the jurisdiction of the Union and the State Legislatures. Thus the 7th Schedule of the Constitution provides three Lists—the Union List the State List and the Concurrent List to specify as to what is the limit of Legislative scope of the Union and the States. It is also expected that both, the Centre and the States, shall respect each others Legislative domain while enacting laws. However, a dispute may arise with respect to a law whether the concerned law comes within the authority of the Legislature which enacted it, or not? In such a controversial situation, the courts apply the doctrine of pith and substance which denotes that the actual nature and purpose of the law shall be investigated. It should be determined whether the substance of the concerned law is really related to the matter or not, in which the concerned legislature has power to enact law. Thus, if, in substance, a law is related to a matter on which the concerned Legislature can Legislate, the law in question is declared valid. This principle was applied by the Supreme Court in two separate cases—Prafulla Kumar Vs. Bank of Khulna and State of Bombay Vs. Balsara.

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