Doctrine of Repugnancy in the Constitution of India – Article 254

The doctrine of repugnancy in the constitution of India – Article 254


The Indian constitution, the bulkiest constitution in the world which came into force on 26 January, 1951. The Doctrine of Repugnancy basically deals with the issues related to the Centre and State. India is a federal country and federalism is a part of the basic structure of the Indian constitution. Federalism, mode of political organization that unites separate states or other polities within an overarching political system in a way that allows each to maintain its own integrity. 

Firstly the federal relationship in the country between the state and the centre has to be clearly defined and mentioned in the constitution and there have to be procedures followed to make changes in the terms in which the country shares the power between the state and the centre. There has to be Non Centralization in existence where the supreme power cannot take away the power from the state governments and this has to be mentioned in the constitution of the country. And the final element of Federalism is the ardeal division of power where there is equality and neutrality, and various groups can get representation. 

India is a Federal democracy and as a part of it, it has adopted the Doctrine of Repugnancy and it is dealt in the Article 254 of the Indian Constitution. We shall know about them further in the article.  


Black’s Law Dictionary defines repugnancy as an inconsistency or contradiction between two or more parts of a legal instrument (such as a statute or a contract). Doctrine of Repugnancy manages struggle between two bits of enactment which when applied to similar realities produce various outcomes. Repugnancy emerges when the arrangements of two laws are so conflicting and hostile that it is difficult to do one without ignoring the other.

There is no uncertainty that both state and centre have an outright force however there are some subject issues where interest of both the legislatures impacts. In this situation doctrine of repugnancy ends up being a basic instrument managing such irregularities. In India where focus has strength over the express, this doctrine isn’t unexpected under article 254(1) of the Indian Constitution specifies that any law conflicting to the law passed by the parliament would be held void.

On the off chance that the state has the consent by the president the parliament can in any case make the law void by confirming, altering and canceling law in a similar subject matter. It is of no significance whether parliamentary law is passed previously or after the death of the state law. Repugnancy emerges where three basics are fulfilled like direct clash, involved field and expected occupation on the off chance that they are fulfilled, the parliamentary law would succeed over the state law. This doctrine assumes a basic part to save the respectability of the country and stay away from two laws on a similar subject matter.

The doctrine of repugnancy isn’t explicitly referenced in the American just as Canadian constitution is being taken from American constitution. The designers to stay away from clashes between the state and the association presented the doctrine in the article 254 of the Indian constitution.


Inconsistency between laws made by Parliament and laws made by the Legislatures of States

(1) If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then, subject to the provisions of clause ( 2 ), the law made by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such State, or, as the case may be, the existing law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void

(2) Where a law made by the Legislature of a State with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the concurrent List contains any provision repugnant to the provisions of an earlier law made by Parliament or an existing law with respect to that matter, then, the law so made by the Legislature of such State shall, if it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, prevail in that State: Provided that nothing in this clause shall prevent Parliament from enacting at any time any law with respect to the same matter including a law adding to, amending, varying or repealing the law so made by the Legislature of the State.

Article 254 clearly states the clauses regarding how to deal with state and centre issues and which has to be given importance so that there no two different laws on one subject and makes sure there exists no conflict among the three lists mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Indian constitution which divides various subjects into three lists namely Union list, State list and Concurrent list. Union list gives powers to make legislations relating to the subjects in the list to the Centre, the state list gives powers to the state and the Concurrent list to both the State and Centre. 


The conditions which should be fulfilled before any repugnancy could emerge are as per the following: 

  1. Clear and direct irregularity between the Central Act and the State Act. 
  2. Irregularity is totally irreconcilable. 
  3. That the irregularity between the arrangements of the two Acts is of such nature as to bring the two Acts into direct impact with one another and a circumstance is arrived at where it is difficult to submit to the one without resisting the other.


In the event that any law passed by the lawmaking body of the state specified in the simultaneous rundown which is offensive to the previous law made by the parliament or a current law passed by the state governing body would stay in presence in that state if the consent is given by the president.  In the wake of getting the official consent the law can in any case be held void if the parliament revises, confirms and repeals any law in regard to a similar matter. 

The state council and the parliament have equivalent skill to enact in the simultaneous rundown. It is the obligation of the court to decipher the establishments and stay away from clashes. No repugnancy of law passed by the state enactment would be required if the matter is unique. Then, at that point Article 254(2) would have no application. 

Under article 254 of the Indian constitution when a law passed by the lawmaking body of the state which is conflicting with the law parliament the entire law will not be held void it will be held void to the degree of repugnancy. To find out repugnancy it is important to check law made by the parliament is a thorough code on the off chance that it isn’t, the state law will not be held void. 

To strike down a law passed by the state council in the court it is important to demonstrate the two laws are made on a similar matter and both are conflicting with one another. The state law which gets void after repugnancy till the time the association law isn’t revoked whenever it is canceled it gets usable.


M Karunanidhi vs. Union of India:

The Tamil Nadu state passed a council Tamil Nadu public men (Criminal offense) act 1973. It was revised in the year 1974 the demonstration was tested asserting that it was offensive with the demonstration passed by the middle comprising the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of corruption Act 1947. The court held that there is no immediate clash between the state and the focal Acts. They are corresponding demonstrations which run pari passu to the focal demonstration. For this situation the court held that the subject of repugnancy may emerge when two institutions are hopeless or conflicting and they can’t work in a similar field together. No inquiry of repugnancy may emerge if the sculptures keep on working in a similar field without cornering into arrangement.

In State of Maharashtra v. Bharat Shanti Lal Shah, it was held that it is essential that the repugnancy should exist in fact. It should also be clearly and sufficiently shown that the Central and State laws are repugnant to each other

In Security Association of India v. Union of India, Court was of the opinion that Article 254 is only applicable when the State law is in ‘Pith and Substance’ a law relating to an entry in the concurrent list on which the parliament has legislated. 


The constitution of India comprises different doctrines out of which the doctrine of repulsiveness is quite possibly the main it helps to keep up consistency in the country and stay away from debates between the middle and the state. India being a Quasi government country there is a dissemination of force between the middle and the state so there is a plausibility that questions emerge between the middle or the state then this doctrine demonstrates basic. Where any law passed by the parliament conflicting with the law passed in the state assembly the parliamentary law would win. Numerous cases in the past Article 254(2) is considered as an exemption for Article 254(1) which specifies that law passed by the state council can be saved with the official consent.


Author: Charisma Guggilam,
Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, First Year

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