Carving Clarity With Doctrine Of Severability In Indian Constitution

April 15, 2024
Doctrine Of Severability In the Indian Constitution

The Doctrine of Severability promotes legal understanding and constitutional analysis within the complicated web of the Indian Constitution. The idea of consistency shows itself to be a crucial instrument for preserving constitutional coherence and maintaining coherence as the nation deals with complicated legal contexts. Maintaining the fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law demands an understanding of its significance and application.

Doctrine of Severability in the Indian Constitution

  • The severability doctrine is also known as the doctrine of separability.  The phrase “to the extent of the inconsistency or contravention” clarifies that, in the event that a statute’s provisions are found to be unconstitutional due to their conflict with fundamental rights, the courts will only declare the offending provision of the law to be invalid, not the entire statute.
  • According to the doctrine of severability, just the offending section of legislation will be ruled void by the Court and not the entire statute when a certain provision of the act violates or is against a constitutional limitation.

Article 13 of the Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution’s Article 13 hails the Doctrine of Severability as a hero in the struggle against the violation of basic rights. The Indian Constitution’s “Dogma of Separability” has to be reconsidered. It specifies the degree of consistency for which a part will be deemed invalid.

  • If a piece of legislation exceeds the Constitution’s fundamental rights, the relevant portion of the law is deemed unconstitutional if it can be separated from the rest of the legislation.
  • On the other hand, the entire Act is deemed unlawful if the unconstitutional portion of it cannot be separated.
  • As a result, separability plays a crucial role in overturning the unlawful portion of the law.

Doctrine of severability: Features

  • Application: Any laws that are in conflict with fundamental rights are covered under Article 13(1). It forbids legislatures from passing legislation that infringes upon citizens’ fundamental rights. The Supreme Court and High Courts have the authority to review laws that they feel violate fundamental rights.
  • Nature of the Contentious Provision: It must be demonstrated that the contested provision is incompatible with the Fundamental Rights in order for it to be deemed invalid. The idea of severability would not be applicable if this were not demonstrated.
  • Severability: Only that particular provision will be deemed void if the contested provision conflicts with the Fundamental Rights. The remainder of the act will continue to be valid and enforceable. Let us assume, however, that the contentious clause cannot be isolated from the remainder of the Act without rendering the entire legislation unworkable or markedly less efficient. In that scenario, the court might invalidate the entire Act.
  • Burden of Proof: The burden of showing that a statute infringes fundamental rights rests with the person who brings the case before the court. They have to prove that their fundamental rights have been infringed upon, following the logic of Chiranjit Lal Chowdhury v UOI & Ors. They can also demonstrate how the enactment of a statute or law could put them in immediate danger.

Doctrine of severability in indian constitution: Characteristics

  • When only specific parts of a statute violate fundamental rights, the Doctrine of Severability applies. 
  • The Constitution’s Article 13 supports the legitimacy of this theory. A statute only becomes invalid to the degree that it is in conflict with fundamental rights. 
  • Any provision that the court finds to be unconstitutional must be severable from the other statutes. 
  • The fundamental tenet is that if a non-infringing clause can endure without the primary clause, it will still be enforceable and legally valid.

The doctrine of severability case law

  • In the case of AK Gopalan v State of Madras, the Preventive Detention Act’s Section 14 was deemed by the Court to be in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. The Court further stated that eliminating Section 14 will not alter the Act’s purpose, meaning that just the challenged section will be eliminated and not the Act in its whole.
  • In the case of State of Bombay v FN Balsara, the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 was found to have non-violating provisions that do not impact the Act’s overall validity, negating the need to completely nullify the statute.

When a legislation’s provisions are shown to be at odds with the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, the theory of severability is a crucial legal principle that is utilized to decide whether the act is constitutional. In cases where a court finds that a certain provision of a statute is unconstitutional, the remaining portions of the Act remain valid and enforceable. The court wants to maintain the elements of the statute that are constitutionally sound by separating the valid from the invalid.

The Doctrine of Severability in Indian Constitution FAQs

  1. What are the essentials of the doctrine of severability?

According to the law of severability, just the offending section of legislation will be ruled void by the Court and not the entire statute when a certain provision of the act violates or is against a constitutional limitation.

  1. What are the features of the doctrine of severability?

The doctrine of severability addresses circumstances in which a statute or law is deemed to violate some fundamental rights, rendering certain portions of it invalid. In these situations, the courts will simply find the unconscionable or incompatible portion of the legislation to be invalid, not the entire act.

  1. Does doctrine of severability apply to post constitutional laws?

For legislation passed after the constitution went into effect, there is a severability theory.

  1. What is the purpose of the doctrine of severability?

According to the doctrine of severability, only the offending component of a statute or act that is in violation of the fundamental rights outlined in the Indian Constitution would be ruled unlawful, not the entire statute or act.

  1. What is the difference between doctrine of eclipse and doctrine of severability?

In contrast to the “doctrine of severability,” which renders a post-Constitutional law void from the outset, the “doctrine of eclipse” cannot be applied to post-Constitutional laws.

  1. What is doctrine of severability in Indian arbitration?

The arbitration agreement is recognized as a distinct agreement from the underlying agreement in accordance with the doctrine of severability. According to this principle, the legitimacy of one agreement cannot be affected by the validity of another. The two could, nevertheless, be evaluated together.

  1. What is the importance of doctrine of separability?

To prevent legal disputes in court, the parties engage in and consent to an arbitration clause. Keeping good terms with the opposite party is more vital for businessmen, as it is typically observed that the parties’ relations deteriorate if the dispute goes to court.

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