Doctrine Of Eclipse In Indian Constitution

By Durga Prashanna Mishra|Updated : October 12th, 2022

Doctrine Of Eclipse is a principle that states that any law which is inconsistent with fundamental rights is not invalid. The conflict or inconsistency in the situation can be exempted through a constitutional amendment. Thus, the amendment will terminate the eclipse, making the law completely valid. In the Indian Constitution, the Doctrine of Eclipse is contented in Article 13 (1). Article 13 states that any law made before the Constitution ought to be consistent with the Part III of the Constitution.

Therefore, with the introduction of the Doctrine of Eclipse, any law inconsistent with the Part III of the Indian Constitution will not be entirely void. Only the section that infringes on the Fundamental right will be considered invalid. Here we have mentioned elements and crucial cases related to the Doctrine Of Eclipse.

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What is the Doctrine Of Eclipse?

When the constitution was adopted, there were already several existing laws. Some of these laws had a direct conflict with fundamental rights. So, to determine the validity of these laws, the Supreme Court came up with certain doctrines, and the Doctrine Of Eclipse was one of them.

Doctrine of Eclipse UPSC Notes PDF

  • Doctrine emerges directly from Article 13(1) of the Indian constitution, which is a part of Fundamental rights. And it 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."
  • Doctrine Of Eclipse forecast fundamental rights as prospective in nature.
  • The Doctrine Of Eclipse states that the pre-constitutional law is inconsistent with fundamental rights is not void but only stays unenforceable.
  • They exist for all past transactions, which means the liabilities and rights acquired before the constitution came into existence.
  • These laws are applicable to individuals who have not benefited from fundamental rights.

Several critical court case rulings are related to this Doctrine. It is recommended that one does an in-depth study on each of them. To name a few:

  • Bhikaji Narain Dhakras v. State of Madhya Pradesh

The C.P and Berar Motor Vehicles Amendment Act of 1947 was challenged in court for violating Article 19 (1) (g) of the Indian Constitution.

  • Keshav Madhav Menon v. the State of Bombay

The case was not resolved when the Constitution was implemented. This raised issues about the retrospective nature of Article 13 (1) and the usage of the term invalid.

  • Behram Khurshid Pesikaka V State of Bombay

The appellant used another case- State of Bombay and Another v. F. N. Balsara to declare section 13 (b) of the Act void. The appellant drove under the influence and used a prior case to get a favored judgment.

  • Sagir Ahmed v. State of Uttar Pradesh

The Supreme Court ruled out that the Doctrine of Eclipse was only applicable to laws made before the commencement of the Constitution and not after.

Apart from the court rulings mentioned above, there are several other landmark cases that showcase the applicability and importance of the Doctrine of Eclipse. Its introduction to the Indian Constitution has helped several citizens to protect their rights.

Elements of Doctrine of Eclipse

The elements of the Doctrine Of Eclipse are given below:

  • It should be a law formulated before the commencement of the Indian Constitution.
  • The law is not dead; it is only overshadowed by fundamental rights.
  • The law in question should have infringements or conflict with fundamental constitutional rights.
  • If any amendment is made to the fundamental right, it will make the impugned law fully operative.

Salient Features of Doctrine Of Eclipse

The salient features of the Doctrine Of Eclipse are as follows:

  • The Doctrine Of Eclipse only applies to the pre-constitutional laws and not post-constitutional laws
  • The law must be a violation of fundamental rights. Then only it can be eclipsed.
  • However, if the fundamental right that is violated by the impugned law is amended in the future, then the law becomes operative automatically.
  • The law comes out to violate Part III doesn't become a nullity but remains defective and unenforceable.

Doctrine Of Eclipse UPSC

The doctrine Of Eclipse is an important topic for the UPSC Exam, as it comes under the Indian Constitution segment of the UPSC Syllabus. Questions can be asked on this topic in both UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exams. That's why it is advised to go through the Doctrine Of Eclipse UPSC Notes to strengthen the preparation. Apart from the notes, candidates should also take the help of UPSC Books and other study materials for effective preparation.

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FAQs on Doctrine Of Eclipse In Indian Constitution

  • The Apex court of Madhya Pradesh formulated the Doctrine of Eclipse in 1955 during the landmark case of Bhikaji Narain Dhakras v. the State of Madhya Pradesh.

  • No. The Doctrine of Eclipse is only applicable to citizens. The term “void” in Article 13 (2) means it is void against a person who doesn’t have fundamental rights, and non-citizens aren’t given fundamental rights.

  • The primary difference between them is Doctrine of Eclipse applies to only pre-constitutional laws, whereas the Doctrine of Severability applies to both pre and post-constitutional laws.

  • The Indian Parliament was making amendments that were essentially weakening the power of the fundamental rights of the citizens. Thus, the Supreme Court applied the Doctrine of Eclipse to Article 368 to take some control away from the legislature. It is the only recorded case where the Doctrine of Eclipse is applied to a post-constitutional law.

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