Article 254 (1) says that if any provision of law made by the Legislature of the State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which is competent to enact or to any provision of the existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then the law made by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such stage 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.
Article 254 (1) only applies where there is inconsistency between a Central Law and a State Law relating to a subject mentioned in the Concurrent List. But the question is how the repugnancy is to be determined? In M.Karunanidhi vs Union of India, in 1979, Fazal Ali, J., reviewed all its earlier decisions and summarized the test of repugnancy.
According to him a repugnancy would arise between the two statutes in the following situations:
- It must be shown that there is clear and direct inconsistency between the two enactments [Central Act and State Act] which is irreconcilable, so that they cannot stand together or operate in the same field.
- There can be no repeal by implication unless the inconsistency appears on the face of the two statutes.
- Where the two statutes occupy a particular field, but there is room or possibility of both the statutes operating in the same field without coming into collusion with each other, no repugnancy results.
- Where there is no inconsistency but a statute occupying the same field seeks to create distinct and separate offences, no question of repugnancy arises and both the statutes continue to operate in the same field.
The above rule of repugnancy is, however, subject to the exception provided in clause (2) of this Article. According to clause (2) if a State law with respect to any 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 of that matter, then the state law if it is has been reserved for the assent of the President and has received his assent, shall prevail not withstanding such repugnancy.
But it would still be possible for the parliament under the provision to clause (2) to override such a law by subsequently making a law on the same matter. If it makes such a law the State Law would be void to the extent of repugnancy with the Union Law.
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