Indian constitution is one of the largest constitutions in the world. Even though it is a compilation of borrowed ideas from several parts of the world, it upholds the values and vision of the great freedom fighters who shed their blood for our nation. The constitution has played a significant role in holding together this huge diverse nation for a period of 75 years. On examining each and every aspect of the constitution the vision shared by the visionaries become more evident.
Doctrines of the constitution are general guidelines laid for enabling proper interpretation of the constitution. It is acts as a guide for the law makers as well as implementers.
The doctrines are:
Doctrine of eclipse
The Doctrine of Eclipse states that any law which is inconsistent with fundamental rights is not invalid. It is not totally dead but overshadowed by the fundamental right. The inconsistency (conflict) can be removed by constitutional amendment. This doctrine emanates directly from Article 13(1) of the Constitution that is a part of the fundamental rights, which states, “all laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, i.e. Part III, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.” The doctrine of eclipse envisages fundamental rights as prospective in nature. It states that a pre-constitutional law inconsistent with the fundamental rights is not nullity or void ab initio but only remains unenforceable, i.e., remains in a dormant state. They exist for all past transactions, i.e., for rights and liabilities that were acquired before the Constitution came into being.
Doctrine of severability
This doctrine of severability is also known as the doctrine of separability. The word “to the extent of the inconsistency or contravention” makes it clear that when some of the provision of a statue when some of the provisions of a statute becomes unconstitutional on account of inconsistency with fundamental rights, only to the repugnant provision of the law in question shall be treated by the courts as void, and not the whole statute. The doctrine of severability means that when some particular provision of a statute offends or is against a constitutional limitation, but that provision is severable from the rest of the statute, only that offending provision will be declared void by the Court and not the entire statute.
Doctrine of judicial review
The doctrine of Judicial review is basically the power of the judiciary to decide on the constitutional validity of the acts of the other wings of the government (the executive and the legislative). The objective is to regulate any such acts which may contravene the constitution. For instance, if any act of the law-making bodies is such that it negates the provisions given in the constitution, it is important that it should be made null and void. In order to do so an organ is required to have the force or power to articulate such acts as void.
Doctrine of pith and substance
To disintegrate the doctrine to its molecular meanings, Pith denotes true nature or essence of something and Substance means the most important or essential part of something. The definition of this doctrine states, within their respective spheres the state and the union legislatures are made supreme, they should not encroach upon the sphere demarcated for the other. Doctrine of Pith and Substance is applied when legislation made by of the legislatures is challenged or trespassed by other legislatures. This doctrine says that when there is a question of determining whether a particular law relates to a particular subject the court looks to the substance of the matter. If the substance of the matter lies within one of the 3 lists, then the incidental encroachment by law on another lists, does not make it invalid because they are said to be intra vires.
Doctrine of harmonious construction
According to the Doctrine of Harmonious Construction, a Statute should be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute. Such an interpretation is beneficial in avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and other parts of the statute.