Doctrine of eclipse
The doctrine of eclipse is a legal principle that applies to certain statutory provisions in India. It refers to the temporary suspension or \”eclipse\” of a statutory provision, which occurs when the provision is in conflict with a constitutional provision. When this happens, the statutory provision is not invalidated, but it is effectively suspended and cannot be enforced until the conflict is resolved.
For example, if a statutory law conflicts with a fundamental right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, the statutory law will be considered to be in eclipse and will not be enforced until the conflict is resolved. The doctrine of eclipse is intended to ensure that constitutional provisions take precedence over conflicting statutory provisions and are given effect in the event of a conflict.
The doctrine of eclipse is not explicitly mentioned in the Indian Constitution. However, it is a principle that has been recognized by the courts in India as a means of resolving conflicts between statutory provisions and constitutional provisions. The principle is based on the idea that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and that all other laws must be in conformity with it. The doctrine of eclipse is one way in which this principle is given effect.
Article 13 of the Indian Constitution deals with the protection of fundamental rights and states that any law that is inconsistent with the fundamental rights contained in Part III of the Constitution shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency. This provision is often relied upon in cases where there is a conflict between a statutory provision and a fundamental right, and the doctrine of eclipse may be applied in such cases.
There have been several landmark judgments in India that have dealt with the doctrine of eclipse and the relationship between statutory provisions and constitutional provisions. Some notable examples include:
In the case of R.M.D. Chamarbaugwala v. Union of India (1957), the Supreme Court of India held that a statutory provision that was inconsistent with a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution was void to the extent of the inconsistency. The court applied the doctrine of eclipse to hold that the statutory provision in question was suspended and could not be enforced until the conflict with the constitutional provision was resolved.
In the case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015), the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which had been used to arrest individuals for posting \”offensive\” content online. The court held that the provision was vague and overbroad, and violated the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The court applied the doctrine of eclipse to hold that the provision was suspended and could not be enforced.
In the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality. The court held that the provision was unconstitutional and violated the right to privacy and equality guaranteed under the Constitution. The court applied the doctrine of eclipse to hold that the provision was suspended and could not be enforced