Doctrine of Eclipse under Article 13 of the Indian Constitution

Doctrine of eclipse

The doctrine of eclipse deals with article 13 of the constitution of India. Article 13 protects our fundamental rights which are given part III of the constitution of India. Article 13 says that the state will not make any law that infringes fundamental rights.

As articles 32 and 226 of the constitution of India are important, article 13 is also important to protect the fundamental rights of citizens of India. Article 32 and 226, which deals with writs and public Interest litigation, manage the post infringement of fundamental rights whereas, article 13 of the constitution of India creates the situation in which the infringement should not even be possible. It provides the protective boundary to fundamental rights. 

Article 13 of the Indian constitution

Article 13 (1) talks about the pre-independence laws

Article 13 (1) all the laws and orders in India shall become void after the commencement of the constitution so far if they are contrary to the fundamental rights.

In simple words, this section of article 13 says that on the day when we adopted the constitution of India, all the laws which were active before the adoption of the Indian constitution will become void if they were infringing the fundamental rights. Before the commencement of the Indian constitution, it was the Britishers who were dominant on Indians and they made lots of laws that were not consistent with fundamental rights. This particular section of article 13 made these laws void. 

Article 13 (2) talks about the post-independence laws

Article 13 (2) says that the state shall not make any law that is not consistent with part lIII of the constitution. If any law made after the commencement of the constitution by the state is inconsistent with part III The law will become void. 

Article 13 (2) provides 2 points:

  • The state will not make any law that is inconsistent with fundamental rights.
  • If the state makes any law that is contrary to part III of the constitution, that law will become void ab initio.

At the time of the adoption of the Indian constitution, there were many laws adopted by the Britishers to rule India which were also important for new India. If these laws would become void, the consequences would be that the Indian government would not use these laws. Also, the parliament did not have much time during the formation of the constitution to pass new laws by checking every law and then making new laws in the place of old laws. To solve this problem, India adopted the doctrine of eclipse. 

The doctrine of eclipse

According to the language of the doctrine of eclipse, it says that any law which is contrary or conflicting with the fundamental rights is not totally dead, but it is just overshadowed by the fundamental rights of citizens of India. The conflict between this law and fundamental rights can be removed by making constitutional amendments. This law can come into existence and in foreseeable ones, the conflict is removed. The time period in which the law remains overshadowed is the time period taken by the parliament to make the necessary changes in that law so that it can become enforceable. The doctrine of eclipse is different from the doctrine of severability because it does not make the laws void-ab-initio.

History of the doctrine of eclipse

The doctrine of eclipse was firstly used in Bhikaji vs State of MP case 1955, this case is related to the CP and Berar state which recognised the Britishers time. There were some provisions of the CP and Berar motor vehicle amendment act 1948 which were infringing the 19(1)(g). The court held that we will not make the full act void but we will remove the mistakes under this act which are validated in article 19 (1) (g). 

Elements of the doctrine of eclipse

There are some important elements of doctrine of eclipse that are following:

  • The law should be pre-constitutional
  • It must be contrary to the fundamental rights
  • The laws on which the doctrine of eclipse is applicable does not become void but they will remain appropriate for that time period. 
  • The law will come into its force once the amendment is done to remove its impurities. 

The doctrine of eclipse and post-constitutional laws

The doctrine of the eclipse was applicable only on pre-constitutional laws until 1960. The doctrine was not applicable to post-constitutional laws. In the case of Deep Chand Vs State, the supreme court of India held that the post-constitutional laws deal under article 13(2). This clause clearly mentioned that any law which is made after the adoption of the constitution shall become void ab initio if the laws are infringing the fundamental rights. 

So at that time, it was considered that the doctrine of eclipse does not apply to post-constitutional laws. 

The doctrine of eclipse and article 368

It was considered that the doctrine of eclipse was applicable only to pre-constitutional laws. But in the case of Gorak Nath, the supreme court of India uses this doctrine for post-constitutional laws. In this case, the parliament of India was making amendments in the constitution of India which were weakening the fundamental rights. The supreme court of India applied the doctrine of eclipse for article 368 to take the power of the legislature to break the fundamental rights for some time. Therefore article 368 of the constitution of India was eclipsed. So it can be seen that the court has applied the doctrine of eclipse for post-constitutional laws also. But by laws, we say that this doctrine is applicable only on the pre-constitutional laws or the laws which are fulfilling the conditions of Article 13 (1). 

FAQ Related to the doctrine of Eclipse

What is the doctrine of eclipse under the Indian constitution? 

The doctrine of eclipse under article 13 states that any law which is contrary to the fundamental rights is not invalid. The law is not totally dead but it is just overshadowed by the fundamental rights of the constitution of India. When the impurities from this law are removed with the help of the constitutional amendments, the eclipse will also be removed and the law will become valid.

Does the doctrine of eclipse apply to post-constitutional laws also?

As per the laws, the doctrine of eclipse does not apply to post-constitutional laws. It only applies to the pre-constitutional laws. The supreme court of India has used this doctrine one time for article 368 which is post-constitutional. 

Is the doctrine of eclipse applicable to non-citizens?

This doctrine protects the rights of the citizens of India. The non-citizens do not possess any fundamental rights. So it is considered that the doctor would not be available to non-citizens of India.

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

The doctrine of eclipse is applicable on pre-constitutional laws only whereas the doctrine of severability is applicable on both pre and post-constitutional laws. Also, the doctrine of eclipse does not make the law void ab initio, it just overshadows the laws until the amendment has not been done. But in the case of the doctrine of severability, the laws which are not severable, the doctrine of severability makes that love void-ab-initio. 

Conclusion

The doctrine of eclipse is used in the pre-constitutional laws which violate the fundamental rights of the citizens of India. This doctrine invalidates the pre-constitutional laws which were violating fundamental rights. But after the removal of the infringement from these laws, they came into force once again. It is the best way to secure such laws which are important for the citizens of India.


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