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.