Latest Development in Doctrine of Repugnancy

Article 245 of the Constitution

This Article enables Parliament to make laws for the whole or any part of India. It also states that State legislature can enact laws for the whole or any part of the State. According to it, a Central law is not invalid due to its extraterritorial application.

 Article 246 of the Constitution

Article 246 delineates the legislative power of the Parliament and Legislature of the States.

  • The Parliament wields exclusive powers to make laws for matters in the Union List of Schedule VII.
  • The Legislature of the State has powers to make laws for such State for matters in the State List.
  • Both the Parliament and the State Legislature have powers to make laws for matters listed in the Concurrent List of Seventh Schedule.
  • Parliament can enact laws relating to any matter for any part of the territory of India if it’s not included in a State.

 Doctrine of Repugnancy

The Constitution of India demarcates the powers of the Union and the States. Schedule 7 lists down the areas in which they can legislate. In spite of this sometimes Union and State laws find themselves at loggerheads. This is where the Doctrine of Repugnancy comes to our rescue. According to it, if the State law is repugnant to any part of the Central law which Parliament is competent to enact, then the Central law will prevail. Article 254 of the Constitution enshrines the Doctrine of Repugnancy.

How to determine repugnance?

The principles of repugnancy has been borrowed from Australian jurisprudence by way of analogy for their application in India.Taking a cue from Australian precedents, the Court in Deep Chand V. State of Uttar Pradesh observed that repugnancy can be identified with the help of the following three tests:

  1. Whether there is a direct conflict between the two impugned provisions;
  2. Whether the Parliament lay down an exhaustive law on the subject matter with the intent to replace the law made by the State legislature; and
  3. Whether the law made by the Parliament and the State legislature occupy the same field.

How to overcome it?

This does not mean that States do not have any recourse. According to Article 254 if a State reserves the law that is repugnant for consideration of the President and, has received his assent. Then that law will prevail in that State.According to the latest SC judgment in G Mohan Rao & Ors. V. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors., the Court held that where a State law is void under Article 254 of the Constitution due to repugnancy, such law could be revived by enacting an amendment which substantively addresses the basis of voidness and applies it retrospectively.