Report No. 49
24. Provision in the Estate Duty Act not challenged.-
The fact that the provision1 in the Estate Duty Act has stood for about twenty years without challenge, can be said to lend support to the view that it does not suffer from any serious constitutional infirmity. No doubt, this factor is not conclusive on the point. But it is very unlikely that those who have had to pay estate duty on the basis of the provision, and who had competent legal advice at their disposal would have refrained from challenging it, unless the legal fraternity took the view that it was valid. With reference to this aspect, we cannot do better than quote the observations of Dixon J. (as he then was). He said-
"time does not run in favour of legislation. If it is ultra vires, it cannot gain legal strength from long failure on the part of lawyers to perceive and set up its invalidity. Albeit, lateness in an attack upon the constitutionality of a statute is but a reason for exercising special caution in examining the arguments by which the attack is supported.2"
1. Paras. 22-23, supra.
2. Grace Bros. Pvt. Ltd. v. Commonwealth, (1946) 72 CLR 289.