Doctrine of Eclipse

The Doctrine of Eclipse is a doctrinal principle that advocates the concept of fundamental rights being prospective. If any law made by the Legislature is inconsistent with Part III of the Constitution, then that law is invalid and inoperative to the extent of it being overshadowed by the Fundamental Rights. The laws are hidden by the relevant fundamental rights, and the Eclipse is said to be cast on it. The inconsistency of the eclipsed law can be removed only when the corresponding fundamental right is amended. The shadowing is then removed, and the law becomes automatically valid and operative again.

The concept, principle and applicability of this Doctrine were polished in the case of Bhikaji Narain Dhakras v. State of Madhya Pradesh. In this case, the C. P. and Berar Motor Vehicles Amendment Act of 1947 which had authorized the State Government to regulate and take up all of the motor transport businesses, was challenged because it was violative of Article 19(1)(g) of Part III. This Amendment Act was a pre-constitutional law, and therefore, the Doctrine of Eclipse applied, and the provisions of this legislative Act were made inoperative. Soon, in the year 1951, Article 19(1)(g) was amended by the first Constitutional Amendment Act overturning the Eclipse and making the law enforceable against citizens as well as non-citizens. The case of Keshavan had raised several challenging issues concerning the Doctrine, in response, is the retrospective and prospective nature of Article 13(1) and the meaning of the word ‘void’ in Article 13(1). In the landmark incident of Keshavan Madhava Menon v. State of Bombay, the petitioner was prosecuted under the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act of 1931 for publishing a pamphlet without permission. The case was pending when the Constitution of India had commenced. The main issue raised was if the provisions of the Act violated Article 19(1)(a). The Court held the relevant regulations to be violating Article 19(1)(a) and that they are ‘void’ to the extent of its inconsistency. The Court further held that fundamental rights are prima facie prospective in nature and that the word ‘void’ did not mean repealing the statute or provision. There has always been a legal struggle concerning the applicability of the Doctrine. Does the Doctrine apply to Article 13(1), i.e. Pre-Constitutional Laws or Article 13(2), i.e. Post-Constitutional Laws? This struggle has been the crux of the issue that has been argued in several cases. The same was settled in the case of Bhikaji Narain and Deep Chand.

In Deep Chand v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court very meticulously observed that the Doctrine applies only to pre-constitutional laws as given under Article 13(1). It does not apply to any post-constitutional law as under Article 13(2) because the post-constitutional laws in violation of fundamental rights are void ab initio and stillborn. The judgment of Bhikaji and Deep Chand was upheld in the case of State of Gujarat v. Ambika Mills, Mahendra Lal Jain v. State of Uttar Pradesh, P. L. Mehra v. D. R. Khanna and Sagir Ahmed v. State of Uttar Pradesh. The debate on the validity and absoluteness of Article 368 started with the case of Golaknath. In I. C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab, the Punjab Security and Land Tenures Act of 1953 was challenged on the ground that this legislative Act had violated the fundamental right to hold and acquire property and practice any profession.

The judgment left the Parliament Legislature with no power to break the fundamental rights and provided them with restrictive amending powers under Article 368. Therefore, Article 368 was eclipsed. In India, the Doctrine of Eclipse is one such theory that is said to safeguard the pre-constitutional laws from being completely wiped out. It gives us a very refined, nuanced aspect of the rule of law. Theorists believe that if there were no Doctrine of Eclipse, then constitutionalism would’ve been compromised. This theory has helped break the thin line between pre-constitutional laws and the post-constitutional laws. It is a tool to harmonize the central dictates of the Indian Constitution.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.