Doctrine of Harmonious Construction

It is a sound canon of interpretation that courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of Statute. The rule of reconciliation on the Entries was propounded for the first time in the case of in re C.P. and Bera Act.1 It is the province of the courts to determine the extent of the authority to deal with subjects falling within the legislative purview of each legislature. To avoid conflict, the Courts should read Entries of two Lists together and the language of one Entry can be interpreted, and modified too, with the help of another Entry. Interpreting Entries 24 and 25 of the State List harmoniously, the Supreme Court held that ‘gas and gas works’ being in Entry 25 would not fall in the general Entry 24’Industry’ and observed:2 It is also well settled that widest amplitude should be given to the language of Entries but some of the entries in the different Lists…may overlap and sometimes may also appear to be in direct conflict with each other, it is then duty of this court to reconcile the entries and bring about harmony between them. In this way it may, in most cases, be found possible to arrive at a reasonable and practical construction of the language of the sections, so as to reconcile the respective powers they contain and to give effect to all of them. In Tika Ramji v. State of Uttar Pradesh,3 the position of the industries was clarified by Supreme Court. In the instant case the vires of U.P. Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act, 1953 was involved. It was contended that sugarcane being ‘controlled’ industry fall within the jurisdiction of the Union List by virtue of Entry 52 of List I falls within the legislative purview of Parliament. The Supreme Court, therefore, had to explain the Inter-relation between Entries 52 of List I, 24 and 27 of List II and 33 of List III. Entry 24 of List II and 52 of List I establish that except ‘controlled’ industries, the industries generally fells within the State Sphere. Entry 27 of List II gives power to State to regulate the production, supply and distribution of ‘goods’ subject to provisions of Entry 33 of List III. The sugar industry being controlled industry, the distribution, supply and production of the product of this controlled industry viz. Sugar as a finished product,
1 2

AIR 1939 FC 1 Calcutta Gas Co. v. State of W.B., AIR 1962 SC 1044 3 AIR 1956 SC 676

would fall within the legislative jurisdiction of the both Central and State Legislature by virtue of Entry 33of list III. List II as ‘goods’ and also the finished products of the same. 1953. List II. The question in the instant case was whether the Gujrat State Legislature was competent to enact the Gujrat University Act. The relevant Entries were the Entry II of the State List reading “education including universities subject to items 63. As regards the raw materials of these industries power lies mainly with the States under Entry 27. Dealing of sugarcane under the term ‘goods’ in Entry 27 of List II. List II. the process of manufacture falls within the Central domain under Entry 52. by the U. 64. The position of industries after the Tika Ramji case may be explained as follows: as regards the industries falling with the State Spheres the State have a comprehensive regularity power covering all aspects of any such Industry. Omitted by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act. the sugarcane would be within the State’s jurisdiction because sugarcane can be regarded as raw material for sugar industry. Act Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act. which the Centre may regulate. Failure by a State to ensure adequate supply of raw materials to an industry may hamper the same and the Centre may be unable to take any corrective measures. Regulatory power regarding centrally controlled industry would thus appear to be somewhat fragmented in so far as some raw materials pertaining to these industries may fall outside the Centre State co-ordination. by virtue of Entry 27 of List II. which prescribed Gujrati or Hindi as the exclusive medium in which instruction is to be imparted in State Universities. Shri Krishna4 has aroused the discussion on the area of higher education in India. was held valid. the Parliament was authorized to legislate to “Co-ordination and determination of standards in institutions of higher education…” the University of Gujrat contended that Entry 66 in List I should be interpreted in restrictively and urged that the prescribing of medium of 4 5 AIR 1963 SC 703 Entry 11. The States can regulate raw materials for such industries under Entry 27. But. 1976 . 65 and 66 of list I…5 and Entry 25 of List III”. As regard the centrally controlled industries. List III. 1949. except in so far as the commodities specified in Entry 33. By virtue of Entry 66 of List I.P. control over finished products of these industries also falls under Central jurisdiction under Entry 22 in List III. The judgment of the Supreme Court in Gujrat University v. List I.

The Gujrat University6 case was quoted with approval by the Supreme Court in D. List II is of wide import and prescribing of medium maybe regarded as an ancillary power unless it is taken away by necessary amendment to the contrary. It was ruled by the Supreme Court that if the impact of the State law is so heavy or devastating as to wipe out or appreciably abridge the Centre field. List II. The rationale of Gujrat University case appears to have been limited by the Supreme Court in Chitralekha v. List I was interpreted broadly by the Supreme Court. prescribing Punjabi as the sole medium of instruction on the ground that this aspect of education is covered under Entry 66. Therefore. But it could not be decided 6 7 AIR 1963 SC 703 (1971) 2 SCC 261 8 AIR 1964 SC 1823 . Bhatinda V.7 In this case the Supreme Court struck down the provisions of the Punjab University Act. 1961. the power of the Centre under Entry 66. it is submitted that. The Supreme Court pointed out that the word ‘education’ in Entry 11.instruction in the University doesn’t come within legislative purview of the Parliament. List I. Thus.A. The Counsel for the University contended that this aspect of the education falls within the Entry 11 of List II. The Supreme Court explained that the power of the Centre to make law in respect of medium of instruction is contained in entries 63 to 65 and it also arises under Entry 66 in List I insofar as it has a direct bearing and impact upon the legislative head of co-ordination and determination of standards in instructions of higher education. The power to prescribe medium of instructions has been excluded from Entry 11.V.8 The question before the Court was whether prescribing of higher percentage of marks for extracurricular activities for admission to medical and engineering colleges lowered the standard of the education and affected the power of the Centre under Entry 66. the power of Centre under Entry 66 must prevail over the power of State under Entry 11. College. Therefore. To extent of overlapping. Entry 11 of List II and Entry 66 of List I overlap. List I. State of Punjab. it might be struck down. therefore the State was not competent to legislate in respect of medium of instruction in the colleges and universities imparting higher education. there should be construed in such a manner so as to avoid conflict. The Court rejected the contention of the University and struck down the impugned enactment in so far as it purported to prescribe the exclusive medium. State of Mysore.

N. was sustained by applying rules of harmonious construction.10 The rule of avoidance between the two Entries in the two Lists is also applicable in case of a conflict between two Entries in the Same List. Therefore.on speculative or hypothetical reasoning: that was a question of fact to be ascertained in each case. Bar Council. Medical and other professionals. right to practice and discipline of the advocates. In Union of India v. List II of the Constitution relates to ‘Administration of Justice. To put in another words. the words “Administration of Justice. Wealth Tax Officer. Entry 65 conferred the special jurisdiction with regard to the matters included in List II.’ The harmonious construction prevents Entry 65. while enacting a law in respect of those matters.1957.” was general and Entries 77 and 78 are carved out of reading ‘Persons Entitled to practice before the Supreme Court and High Court’ the general power under Entry 26 in List III. was challenged on the ground that the subject matter did not fall within the legislative purview of the Parliament but comes 9 AIR 1968 SC 886 Durgeshwa v. Sudhir Chandra Nawn v. 1961 which prescribed the qualifications. as amended by the finance Act of 1969. Narottam Das Jethabhai. enrollment. It is not possible to hold that if a State legislature made a law prescribing higher percentage of marks for extra curricular activities in the matter of admission to colleges.Mohindroo v. SC 59 11 AIR 1951 SC 69 12 AIR 1972 SC 1061 10 . Secretary Bar Council.9 the constitutionality of the Advocates Act.S. AIR 1954 All 728. Constitution of Courts must be construed restrictively excluding from their scope ‘jurisdiction and powers of courts. the Centre is exclusively entitled to legislate in respect of person entitled to practice before the Supreme Court and High Court. Constitution of Courts. 11 The Supreme Court read the two Entries together and held that while Entry 3 of List II conferred power on the State Legislature to provide general jurisdictions to court. List II from being futile and meaningless. The power conferred by Entry 26 in List III “Legal. AIR 1969. The vires of the Wealth Tax Act.12 the construction adopted by the Supreme Court has titled the balance of powers in favour of the States. while Entry 65 deals with jurisdiction and powers of…Courts’. Dhillon. In O. H. it would be directly encroaching on the field covered by Entry 66 of List I. The Supreme Court had an opportunity to interpret these two entries in State of Bombay v. Entry 3.

will take care of it. The object of providing residuary power is to confer power only in respect of a matter which could not be foreseen or contemplated at the time of the framing of the constitution. If it falls under List II. except 97.under Entry 49 of List II. If it does not fall under any Entry of List II. Harmonious Construction does not imply destroying of One Entry at the expense of another Entry. . No question should be asked about List I. then the Court should not plunge itself into the discussion of inquiring that which Entry of List I.. would be sufficient to take care of the Act. the Supreme Court held that the impugned Act can be saved under Entry 97.J. It is in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution to give same status to the enumerating in Entries 1-96 in List I as given to the enumerations in List II to avoid restrictive interpretation of Entries 1-96 of List I. in such case. List I. it submitted that such construction upsets the balance drawn by the framers of the Constitution between Union and the States titling the scale in favour of the States. speaking for the Supreme Court. observed that the only question to be asked is: is the subject matter sought to be legislated included in List II or List III or is the tax sought to be levied mentioned in List II or List III. Sikri. C. Entry 97. then the case is over. Rejecting this contention. This construction gives undue higher position to Entry 97. relegating Entries 1-96 to subordinate lace and making them only the illustrations of residuary power found in Entry 97 of List I. it would be reasonable for the Court to judge the validity of the Act by enquiring whether the impugned Act fell under any Entry of List II. It was stated that if any Central Act is challenged.

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