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Central Bank Of India vs State Of Kerala & Ors on 27 February, 2009
Showing the contexts in which doctrine of pith and substance appears in the document
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legislature, then it must be held to be valid in its entirety, even though it might incidentally trench on matters which are beyond its competence. It would be quite an erroneous approach to the question to view such a statute not as an organic whole, but as a mere collection of sections, then disintegrate it into parts, examine under what heads of legislation those parts would severally fall, and by that process determine what portions thereof are intra vires, and what are not. Now, the Madras Prohibition Act is, as already stated, both in form and in substance, a law relating to intoxicating liquors. The presumptions in Section 4(2) are not presumptions which are to be raised in the trial of all criminal cases, as are those enacted in the Evidence Act. They are to be raised only in the trial of offences under Section 4(1) of the Act. They are therefore purely ancillary to the exercise of the legislative power in respect of Entry 31 in List II. So also, the provisions relating to search, seizure and arrest in Sections 28 to 32 are only with reference to offences committed or suspected to have been committed under

legislative competence of Parliament to enact a law, the question one has to ask is whether the legislation relates to any of the entries in List I or III. If it does, no further question need be asked and Parliament's legislative competence must be upheld. Where there are three lists containing a large number of entries, there is bound to be some overlapping among them. In such a situation the doctrine of pith and substance has to be applied to determine as to which entry does a given piece of legislation relate. Once it is so determined, any incidental trenching on the field reserved to the other legislature is of no consequence. The court has to look at the substance of the matter. The doctrine of pith and substance is sometimes expressed in terms of ascertaining the true character of legislation. The name given by the legislature to the legislation is immaterial. Regard must be had to the enactment as a whole, to its main objects and to the scope and effect of its provisions.

State Lists within an area common to both. There the doctrine of pith and substance is to be applied and if the impugned legislation substantially falls within the power expressly conferred upon the legislature which enacted it, an incidental encroaching in the field assigned to another legislature is to be ignored. While reading the three lists, List I has priority over Lists III and II and List III has priority over List II. However, still, the predominance of the Union List would not prevent the State Legislature from dealing with any matter within List II though it may incidentally affect any item in List I.