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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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(5) Where the legislative competence of the legislature of any State is questioned on the ground that it encroaches upon the 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.

Incidental and superficial encroachments are to be disregarded. (6) The doctrine of occupied field applies only when there is a clash between the Union and the 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.

[Emphasis supplied]

11. The three-Judge Bench also dealt with the scope of Article 254 and held:

12. In State of West Bengal v. Kesoram Industries Ltd. (supra), the majority of the Constitution Bench recognized the possibility of overlapping of legislations enacted under different entries in Lists I and II in the Seventh Schedule and observed:

Two--In which entry the impugned legislation falls, by finding out the pith and substance of the legislation. In this regard 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. Incidental and superficial encroachments are to be disregarded. Interpretation is the exclusive privilege of the Constitutional Courts and the court embarking upon the task of interpretation would place such meaning on the words as would effectuate the purpose of legislation avoiding absurdity, unreasonableness, incongruity and conflict. As is with the words used so is with the language employed in drafting a piece of legislation. That interpretation would be preferred which would avoid conflict between two fields of legislation and would rather import homogeneity. It follows as a corollary of the abovesaid statement that while interpreting tax laws the courts would be guided by the gist of the legislation instead of by the apparent meaning of the words used and the language employed. The courts shall have regard to the object and the scheme of the tax law under consideration and the purpose for which the cess is levied, collected and intended to be used. The courts shall make endeavour to search where the impact of the cess falls. The subject-matter of levy is not to be confused with the method and manner of assessment or realization.

and Three - Having determined the field of legislation where in the impugned legislation falls by applying the doctrine of pith and substance, can an incidental trenching upon another field of legislation be ignored? Once it is so determined if the impugned legislation substantially falls within the power expressly conferred upon the legislature which enacted it, an incidental encroaching in/trenching on the field assigned to another legislature is to be ignored."