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Harmonious Construction

 Harmonious Construction

A legal doctrine is a principle, a theory, or a position that is commonly applied and upheld by the courts.

Indian constitution helps us to interpret the laws. Harmonious construction is known as the thumb rule

for interpreting any statue. This doctrine is used when there arises an inconsistency between two or

more statutes or sections of a particular statute.

There is the history behind the doctrine, it was first seen in the case C.P and Berar Act, in this case, the

court resolved the issue of inconsistency between an entry of list -1 and entry list –ii in the Indian

constitution and interpreted them harmoniously. In this case, the question arises whether a tax imposed

by a provincial legislature on the sale is excise duty. In this case, the Supreme court held that it would be

peculiar if the union had exclusive power to tax retail sales when the province had executive power to

make laws concerning trade and commerce, its production and supply, and distribution of goods within

its boundaries. Hence it was a sale tax and the act was not ultra vires. The court added that there was no

overlapping or conflict of two entries, so as to apply a non- obstante clause.

The same thing was seen in the case of, Shankari Prasad Sing Deo v. union of India, in the case the

conflict was between the fundamental rights and directive principles of the constitution of India. In this

case, the Apex court used harmonious construction, fundamental rights are granted against the state

and can be infringed in this case. The court cleared that both are part of the state policy and they are

part of the same coin, therefore it is important to work for them together, it was further held that

fundamental rights enforced limitation over both the legislature and executive power

The view of the judiciary is that the court should be viewed as a whole. This doctrine is used to prevent

confusion or incompatibility between the different sections o parts of the statute being used. The scope

of the doctrine is very straightforward as mentioned above.

Case; East India Hotels LTD v. Union of India, it was held that an act should be read as a whole, the

different provisions have to be harmonized and the effect to be given to all of them.

Case; Qureshi v. State of Bihar, Apex court held that the state should implement the directive principle

in a way so as that it will not interfere with the fundamental right

Case; Bhatia International v. Bulk Trading, it was seen in this case that if more than n interpretation is

possible for a statute the court has to choose the interpretation which shows the intention of the


Case; Yakub Abdul Menon v. the State of Maharashtra, the supreme court held that the conflict

between the provisions of two statutes has to be resolved by reference to the purpose and policy

underlying two enactments. The court must take into consideration principal subject matter and

particular perspective in order to determine whether a statute is a special or general one.


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