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Validation Act cannot be used to subvert the Court decision without removing the statutory basis of the decision, Supreme Court

The SC on June 29, 2021 {G. MOHAN RAO & ORS. vs. STATE OF TAMIL NADU & ORS.} held that in   the   present   case,   the letter   seeking   assent   clearly demonstrates that the three State enactments were made for the purpose of speedy acquisitions. It was held that it further states that the law made   by   the   Parliament   rendered   the   three   enactments repugnant and out of operation owing to the Madras High Court judgment. It was further held that it also states that the State has considerable interest, having a strong bearing on the public exchequer, in saving and reviving the three State enactments. It was also held that it also clearly specifies the law made by the Parliament, which could be coming in the way of the State enactments for due consideration by the President. It was held that suffice it to say that the communication was in compliance with the mandate of Article 254.

It was also held by the Bench, comprising of Justice A.M. KHANWILKAR and Justice DINESH MAHESHWARI that the underlying purpose of retrospectivity, therefore, is to cure including validate certain transactions of the past by making a law in the present and not to compete with the laws existing in the past at that point of time. It was held that the objective was to save   and   validate   past   acquisitions   under   the   three   State enactments, which were valid until the commencement of the 2013 Act but stood quashed due to the High Court decision. It was held that this was also for altering the basis of the law in existence at that point of time and providing for benefits at par with the 2013 Act, so far as it was fit in the wisdom of the State legislature. It was held that no doubt, it may   appear   anomalous   to   operationalise   the   2019   Act   from 26.09.2013, a day prior to the making of the 2013 Act, but it does   not   make   any   impact   on   the   validity   thereof   or   its substance. It was held that the date has been chosen by the State legislature only by way of abundant caution and, in its view, rightly. It was held that it is obviously relevant to overcome the repugnancy corresponding to the   commencement   of   the   2013   Act.   It was further held that adopting   any   other interpretation   would   not   only   be   unwarranted   as   per   the constitutional scheme but would also strike at the very purpose of a retrospective reviving and validating enactment. More so, it would open a pandora’s box of unforeseen conflicts.

The question falling for consideration in present case before the SC was whether   the   State   legislature   transgressed   the limits of its legislative competence having the effect of nullifying/overruling the judgment of the High Court, by enacting the 2019 Act?

The SC held that even within the State list, the legislative power of the State cannot be said to be absolute and can be subjected to intervention of the Parliament under certain circumstances such as national emergency, national interest, desire expressed by   legislatures   of   two   or   more   States   etc., as   delineated by Articles 249 to 253. It was held that it is crystal clear from this constitutional scheme that the balance of power tilts in favour of the Union in multiple circumstances.

It was further held that the impugned Act is in the nature of a validation Act i.e., an Act which validates something invalid in the eyes of law and to make such validation effective, it has been given a retrospective effect by the State.

It was also held that the legislative power either to introduce enactments for   the   first   time   or   to   amend   the   enacted   law   with retrospective effect, is not only subject to the question of competence   but   is   also   subject   to   several   judicially recognized limitations. The first is the requirement that the words used   must   expressly provide   or   clearly   imply retrospective   operation. The   second   is   that   the retrospectivity must be reasonable and not excessive or harsh, otherwise it runs the risk of being struck down as unconstitutional. The third   is apposite where the legislation   is   introduced   to   overcome   a   judicial decision. It was held that the power cannot be used to subvert the decision without   removing   the   statutory basis   of   the decision.

The SC also held that concept   of   repugnancy   is meant to prevent the operation of two conflicting laws on the same field so as to result into uncertainty and inconsistency. It was held that naturally, when a situation like that emerges, the subjects of law cannot be expected to approach a Court immediately and seek a resolution as to which of the two laws would operate on them. Thus, it was held that the Constitution provides for univocal and unambiguous solution in the form of Article 254 which makes it clear that in such circumstances, the law made by the Parliament ought to prevail and the subjects would be governed by it. However, it does not stop here. It was held that it goes beyond this basic declaration and gives an opportunity to the legislature to which the repugnant law   belonged   (State   legislature)   to   revive   it   by   obtaining   the Presidential assent, thereby providing impetus to the competency of the State legislature to meet with the fallouts of repugnancy.

It was held by the SC that the ultimate query should be whether the Court would have given the same decision had the circumstances been the altered ones, and in present case it sees no indication in the High Court order that the Court would have arrived at the same decision even today. 

In light of the aforesaid discussion, the SC held that the 2019 Act to be a legitimate legislative exercise and find it to be consistent with   and   within   the   four   corners   of   Article   254   of   the Constitution of India and also of the High Court judgment. Thus, the present batch of writ petitions were dismissed by the SC.

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