Constitution of India-Meaning of ‘Law’ and ‘Laws in force’

Constitution of India-Meaning of ‘Law’ and ‘Laws in force’

Meaning of ‘Law’ and ‘Laws in force’

Prepared by Assist. Professor Rekha Khandelwal

Constitution of India

Constitution of India-Meaning of ‘Law’ and ‘Laws in force. ‘-

Jeshingbhai v. Emperor,[1] AIR 1950 Bom 363;

D. Elayunni v. State, AIR 1961ker 52; Dwarka Nath v. State of Bihar, AIR 1959 SC 249; Vasudeo v. State of Mysore, Air 1966 Mys 92.

In these cases “law” is defined as including an ordinance, order, bye – law, regulation, notification, custom or usage having the force of law for the purpose of article 13 . The definition of ‘law’ in this article is wider than the ordinary connotation of law which refers to enacted  law or legislation. It includes even the administrative order issued by an executive officer. 

State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali, [2]AIR 1952 SC 75

In this case it is held that the definition of law does not include administrative directions or instructions issued by the Government for the guidance of Its officers. 

D.B.M. Patnaik v. State of A.P., [3]AIR 1974 SC 2092

In this case it is held that the definition of law does not include departmental instructions. Departmental instructions are neither “law” in the sense of article 13(3)(a) nor are “procedure established by law” in the sense of article 21. Though the term “law” includes all ‘laws in force’, i.e., custom, usage, etc. having the force of law,

Bhan Ram v. Baijnath,[4] AIR 1962 SC 1476

In this case it is held that personal laws of Hindus, Muslims and Christians are excluded from the definition of “law” for the purpose of this article.

Krishna singh v. Mathur Ahir, [5]AIR 1980 SC 707

It is held that the strict rule enjoyed by the Smriti writers as a result of which Sudras were considered to be incapable of entering the orders of Yati or Sanyasi, has ceased to be valid because of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III is not correct. Part III does not touch upon the personal laws of parties. 

 ‘Laws in force’

Ramkrishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar,[6] AIR 1958 SC 538

In this case it is held that ‘Laws in force’ denote all prior and existing laws passed by the legislature or other competent authority which have not been repealed notwithstanding the fact that are not in operation wholly or in part throughout India or part thereof. The term ‘existing law’ includes a wider range,  such as, ordinance, orders, bye-laws, rules or regulations by legislature or other authorised body or person. Thus an ordinance issued by the President under article 123 or by the Governors under article 213, a Government notification.

Yasin v. Town Area Committee, [7]AIR 1952 SC 115

 It is held that A bye- law of a municipal body are all laws in force. The term ‘having the force of law’ means rule of conduct should be called a law it must be established that it has a force of Law.

 Amending Act if struck down. – 

State of Tamil Nadu v. K. Shyam Sunder, [8]AIR 2011 SC 3470

It is held that Old  law will revive- when an amending act is struck down for want of Legislative competence or for being violative of any of the fundamental rights, it would be  unenforceable in view of the provisions under article 13(2) of the constitution and in such circumstances, the old act would revive but not otherwise. This proposition of law is not applicable to subordinate legislation.


[1] Jeshingbhai v. Emperor, AIR 1950 Bom 363

[2] State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali,AIR 1952 SC 75

[3] D.B.M. Patnaik v. State of A.P., AIR 1974 SC 2092

[4] Bhan Ram v. Baijnath, AIR 1962 SC 1476

[5] Krishna singh v. Mathur Ahir, AIR 1980 SC 707

[6] Ramkrishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar, AIR 1958 SC 538

[7] Yasin v. Town Area Committee, AIR 1952 SC 115

[8] State of Tamil Nadu v. K. Shyam Sunder, [8]AIR 2011 SC 3470

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