REPUGNANCY between Central Law and State Law

REPUGNANCY between Central Law and State Law:

“It would be seen that so far as clause (1) of Article 254 is concerned it clearly lays down that where there is a direct collision between a provision of a law made by the State and that made by Parliament with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then, subject to the pro-visions of clause (2), the State law would be void to the extent of the repugnancy.

This naturally means that where both the State and Parliament occupy the field contemplated by the Concurrent List then the Act passed by Parliament being prior in point of time will prevail and consequently the State Act will have to yield to the Central Act.

In fact, the scheme of the Constitution is a scientific and equitable distribution of legislative powers between Parliament and the State Legislatures.

First, regarding the matters contained in List I, i.e. the Union List to the Seventh Schedule, Parliament alone is empowered to legislate and the State Legislatures have no authority to make any law in respect of the Entries contained in List I.

Secondly, so far as the Concurrent List is concerned, both Parliament and the State Legislatures are entitled to legislate in regard to any of the Entries appearing therein, but that is subject to the condition laid down by Article 254(1) discussed above.

Thirdly, so far as the matters in List II, i.e. the State List are concerned, the State Legislatures alone are competent to legislate on them and only under certain conditions Parliament can do so.

It is, therefore, obvious that in such matters repugnancy may result from the following circumstances:

1. Where the provisions of a Central Act and a State Act in the Concurrent List are fully inconsistent and are absolutely irreconcilable, the Central Act will prevail and the State Act will become void in view of the repugnancy.

2. Where however a law passed by the State comes into collision with a law passed by Parliament on an Entry in the Concurrent List, the State Act shall prevail to the extent of the repugnancy and the provisions of the Central Act would become void provided the State Act has been passed in accordance with clause (2) of Article 254.

3. Where a law passed by the State Legislature while being substantially within the scope of the entries in the State List entrenches upon any of the Entries in the Central List the constitutionality of the law may be upheld by invoking the doctrine of pith and substance if on an analysis of the provisions of the Act it appears that by and large the law falls within the four corners of the State List and entrenchment, if any, is purely incidental or inconsequential.

4. Where, however, a law made by the State Legislature on a subject covered by the Concurrent List is inconsistent with and repugnant to a previous law made by Parliament, then such a law can be protected by obtaining the assent of the President under Article 254(2) of the Constitution. The result of obtaining the assent of the President would be that so far as the State Act is concerned, it will prevail in the State and overrule the provisions of the Central Act in their applicability to the State only. Such a state of affairs will exist only until Parliament may at any time make a law adding to, or amending, varying or repealing the law made by the State Legislature under the proviso to Article 254.

(The Supreme Court in M.Karunanidhi -vs- Union of India reported in AIR 1979 SC 898)

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