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Doctrine of Pith & Substance by Mayurakshi Sarkar at Lexcliq

 Doctrine of Pith & Substance by Mayurakshi Sarkar at Lexcliq


Ancillary and incidental intrusion has its roots in Canada's Cushing Vs. Dupuy case, which is significant since it laid the foundation for this doctrine. It has now spread to India, where it is firmly backed by Article 246 and the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Union, State, and Concurrent List) are all included in this timetable. Many Supreme Court decisions have been based on this theory.


Other legislatures may use the Doctrine of Pith and Substance to overturn legislation approved by their own bodies. To determine whether a law applies at a specific issue, the court looks to the content of the problem, says this doctrine. It doesn't matter if a law encroaches on another list if the substance of the problem lies inside one of the three lists because it is considered to be intra vires.

Features of  Doctrine

  1. When there appears to be a discrepancy in the subject matter of two lists, this principle comes into play.

  2. Legislative authority will be severely curtailed if every law is declared unlawful because it infringes on the rights of others.

  3. In order to categorise the matter into its proper subsets, the theory extracts its true nature and character.

Landmark Judgements

  1. FN Balsara and the State of Bombay sued each other over the law that made it illegal to drink alcohol on the borders of India. The case was about whether or not the law should have been changed to make it illegal to drink alcohol outside of India. The act was found to be legal by the court because it was in its heart and soul and was on the State List, even though it was affecting the import of liquor.

  2. Prafulla Kumar Mukherjee v. Bank of Khulna was a case in which the Bengal Money Lenders Act was challenged because it limited the rate of interest and the amount that a money lender could get back on any loan. It was said that promissory notes were not a matter for the state. People in the Privy Council said the law was about "money lending and money lenders," not "Promissory notes," so the act could still be used even if "Promissory notes" were being used.


This doctrine has been used in a lot of Court decisions. Whenever the question of overlap or encroachment comes up, the doctrine of Pith and substance helps people understand what the subject is and where it fits in the list of things they are interested in. This doctrine is thought to make the federal government less rigid. It divides power between the central government and each of the states.

It would be very hard for the powers to have any weight if they were all thrown out because they crossed into other legislatures' areas. This would make it impossible for the powers to have any purpose because they would be so rigid.


As a whole, the doctrine of "pith and substance" has been very useful when the Center and the States have fought over legislative power. In India, the Center is more important than the States, so a lot of things on the Union List are very important. States are only supposed to pass laws about things that affect them. Still, there may be some overlaps because one law is linked to the other, either directly or indirectly, so there may be some overlaps. What is very important is that the courts do their job without making a mistake.


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