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Report No. 60

6.6. Section 6 and implied repeals.-

There is one important matter concerning implied repeals, which needs to be mentioned. By its terms, section 6 does not state that it applies also to implied repeals, and, for some time, the Supreme Court also kept the question open.1 In 1964, the question came up before the Supreme Court in these circumstances.2 The Orissa Mining Areas Development Fund Act, 1952 (an Act of the Orissa State Legislature) was, by reason of the passing of the (Central) Mines & Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, superseded. The latter Act had no express repeal clause, but since the regulation of mines and the development of the minerals to the extent provided in the Act was taken under its control by the Union by a declaration in3 section 2 thereof, this consequence necessarily followed.

1. Trust Mai Lachhmi Sialkot Bradri v. Amritsar Improvement Trust, AIR 1963 SC 976.

2. State of Orissa v. M.A. Tooloch & Co., AIR 1964 SC 1284 (1294), para. 21.

3. The declaration was with reference to the Constitution, Union List, entry 54.

6.7. Posing the question whether the expression "repeal" in section 6 was of sufficient amplitude to cover implied repeal, and noting the absence of direct authority on the point in England or in the United States, the Supreme Court took the view that the principle underlying section 6 was that every latter enactment which supersedes an earlier one or puts an end to the earlier state of the law, is presumed to intend the continuance of rights accrued and liabilities incurred under the superseded enactment, unless there are sufficient indications express or implied in the later enactment, designed to completely obliterate the earlier state of the law.

6.8. The Court then examined the question whether this principle could or ought to be limited to cases where a particular form of words is used to indicate that the earlier law has been repealed, and made the following pertinent observations:-

"The entire theory underlying implied repeals is that there is no need for the later enactment to state in express terms that an earlier enactment has been repealed by using any particular set of words or form of drafting, but that if the legislative intent to supersede the earlier law is manifested by the enactment of provisions as to effect such supersession, then there is in law a repeal notwithstanding the absence of the word 'repeal' in the later statute. Now, if the legislative intent to supersede the earlier law is the basis upon which the doctrine of implied repeal is founded, could there be any incongruity in attributing to the later legislation the same intent which section 6 presumes where the word 'repeal' is expressly used ?

So far as statutory construction is concerned, if ii one of the cardinal principles of the law that there is no distinction or difference between an express provision and a provision which is necessarily implied, for it is only the form that differs in the two cases and there is no difference in intention or in substance. A repeal may be brought about by repugnant legislation, without even by reference to the Act intended to be repealed, for once legislative competence to effect a repeal is posited it matters little whether this is done expressly or inferentially or by the enactment of repugnant legislation."

6.8. Before we conclude our discussion of this section, we may point out that the concluding words of this section "as if the repealing Act or Regulation had not been passed" are its key words. As the Supreme Court observed,1 "The last nine words are the key words, and mean that in respect of rights, obligations and liabilities acquired, accrued or incurred under the earlier Act, the repealing Act need not be read and legal proceedings and remedies are to continue under the repealed Act according to its tenor."

As the section is quite comprehensive in its scope and content, we do not think that any change is called for in it.

1. A.N. Channiah v. A. Batchachanian Sahib (decided in January 1963).

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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