Written by:Adv. Pooja Gupta

7 Most important constitutional doctrines

Introduction of the 7 Most important constitutional doctrines: – The term doctrine refers to a belief or collection of beliefs. A doctrine in law is a legal norm, theory, or principle that has been developed through precedents and can be used to determine decisions in a specific legal matter.

What exactly are doctrines?

Doctrines are defined as “a principle, idea, concept, or belief of the law; for example, the doctrine of amalgamation, the doctrine of relation, etc”.

Let us study the most essential constitutional theories applicable under the Indian Constitution in this Article:

Most essential constitutional theories

1. Doctrine of Eclipse

When pre-constitutional law contradicts fundamental rights, it is not repealed. Instead, it has been “eclipsed.” This signifies that the legislation becomes dormant but is not completely dead. If the aforementioned fundamental right is altered, the inactive legislation becomes operative, and the shadow is eliminated, rendering the disputed Act free of any defects.

The theory only applies to pre-constitutional (Article 13(1)) and not post-constitutional (Article 13(2)) statutes. This is because pre-constitutional law was legitimate when it was passed, and its legitimacy was superseded when the Constitution took effect. Post-constitutional legislation that violates fundamental rights, on the other hand, is nullified from the inception.

2. Doctrine of Severability

The legislation is only unconstitutional if it breaches essential fundamental rights, according to Article 13 of the Indian Constitution. If the part of the law that is contradictory to basic rights is eliminated, the rest of the law remains valid and enforceable.

If the legislative intention is lacking after removing the invalid part, the entire statute becomes nullified. The Supreme Court ruled in Gopalan v. Union of India, that if removing the void part does not change the essence, purpose, or framework of the statute, the latter is valid and enforceable from the rest.

3. Doctrine of Judicial Review

According to Articles 226 & 32, the High Courts and Supreme Court, respectively, have the authority to conduct judicial reviews. This makes it feasible for legislative action to be reviewed by higher courts, which is essential to our constitutional system.

The authority of courts to challenge the legitimacy of government legislative and executive operations and declare them unlawful if they violate fundamental constitutional principles is known as judicial review.

The two primary interrelated purposes of judicial review are to legitimize governmental actions and safeguard the Constitution from unauthorized government interference. According to this idea, the courts serve as the Constitution’s primary guardian by ensuring that other governing bodies (legislative, executive, quasi-judicial, and administrative) remain within the boundaries of the law.

According to the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision, it is now widely accepted that:

A fundamental and crucial aspect of the Constitution is judicial review. It cannot be abrogated or taken away by any law made by Parliament while it was exercising its constituent authority.

Without a doubt, Parliament can establish efficient substitute institutional processes or systems for examining governmental operations and strengthening the judicial review principle.

4. Doctrine of Pith and Substance

When a subject from one list affects a subject from another list, the court applies the principle of pith & substance. “Pith and substance” are to be regarded as the fundamental essence and character of law when deciding whether a certain law applies to a specific subject specified in one list or the other. The three essential criteria for determining the pith and substance of law are the legislation as a whole, its primary aims, and the extent and purposes of its provisions.

5. Doctrine of Colorable Legislation

What cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly, according to the principle. When the legislature accomplishes anything that is not done directly within its sphere of power, the doctrine applies.

The relevance of this theory is determined by competence rather than motives/intentions (mala fide or bona fide) in establishing legislation. It loses significance if the relevant legislature adopts an aspect of the law within the power granted to it by the constitution. The actual essence and character of the legislation are used to establish whether the legislator exceeded the limited powers delegated to him.

6. The doctrine of Constitutional Morality

The Supreme Court of India is firmly committed to safeguarding all minorities, despite objections from majoritarian regimes, as evidenced by the notion of constitutional values.

Second, the Court held that it serves a counter-majoritarian function within the constitutional framework based on the notion of constitutional morality.

7.  Doctrine of Harmonious Construction.

The Constitution’s provisions should be construed in a way that gives meaning to all of them if any of them conflict with each other. Its framers are presumed to have had no intention of conflict or repugnancy, therefore interpretation must be broad & liberal in order to give effect to all of its aspects. The idea has been used in a number of situations where entries in distinct lists clash or overlap.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What is a constitutional doctrine?

Ans. The constitutional-fact doctrine comes from the theory that every administrative decision that may have an impact on constitutional rights must be reviewed by an impartial court based on both the law and the facts.

Q. What are the basic aspects and features of the Indian Constitution?

Ans. Any statute that the Supreme Court decides any law to be unconstitutional may be declared invalid by the court. Any amendment that seeks to alter the fundamental right unconstitutional, according to the Basic Structure Doctrine.

Q. What exactly do you mean by “fundamental rights”?

Ans. The Supreme Court has identified a group of rights known as fundamental rights as requiring a high measure of protection from intrusion by the government. These rights are listed expressly in the Constitution, particularly in the Bill of Rights, or have been identified through the exercise of due process

Q. What is the relevance of the Indian Constitution?

Ans. To establish a system of fundamental principles that allow for minimal cooperation among members of the society. To define who has the authority to make decisions in a community. It decides how the govt. will be established. To restrict what a govt. may impose on its citizens.

Read more: –

Res Ipsa Loquitur Doctrine in Tort Law

Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution

The Theories of Punishment Indian Constitution

Doctrine of Lis Pendens in Transfer of Property Act

Doctrine of Frustration under Indian Contract Act 1872

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