Presumption of Constitutionality of Statutes is an important legal theory developed by common law courts to deal with the cases challenging the. One of the judiciary's self-imposed limits on the power of judicial review is the presumption of constitutionality. Under that presumption, courts supply any. In Constitutional Law, the Presumption of Constitutionality of a statue or provision occurs when two possible interpretations for a statute occur - one favoring the.


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See also Fletcher v. Illinois, 94 US; Lindsley v.

Natural Carbonic Gas Co. Brownell, US Momodou Jobe 1 AC It also means that in resolving a doubt or ambiguity, the court should lean in favour of the presumption of constitutionality of the statute. There is, therefore, a presumption that the Legislature does not exceed its jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing that the Act is not within the competence of the Legislature, or that it has transgressed other constitutional mandates, such as those relating to fundamental rights, is always on the person who challenges its vires.

The principle is however subject to the exception that once the citizen is able to establish that the impugned legislation has invaded his fundamental rights, the State must justify saving the law.

Further the State may also have to satisfy that the restrictions imposed on fundamental rights satisfy the test of proportionality which requires a stricter test of reasonableness.

One of the earliest statements of the principle is that of Chief Justice Marshall in Fletcher v. The court, when compelled by duty to render such a judgment, would be unworthy of its presumption of constitutionality, of it were unmindful of the solemn obligations which that situation imposes.

But it is not on slight implication and vague conjecture that the legislature is to presumption of constitutionality pronounced to have transcended its powers, and its acts to be considered as void.

Presumption of constitutionality - Wikipedia

The opposition between the constitution and the law presumption of constitutionality be such that the judge feels the clear and strong conviction of their incompatibility with each other.

General words may, therefore, be construed, narrowly or widely, with reference to the powers of the Legislature and their meaning applied to those matters in respect of which the legislative competence exists.

presumption of constitutionality A question, therefore, arose whether the Act was ultra vires of the powers of the Central presumption of constitutionality. The leaned Chief Justice further observed: State of Punjab, AIR SC 5 there is ample authority for the proposition that general words in a statute are to be construed with reference to the powers of the legislature which enacts it.

The section as construed by the Privy Council, did not make it essential for an activity to come within its mischief that the same should involve intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order or incitement to violence.


The Federal Presumption of constitutionality had, however, taken a different view. The application of this rule in this case is, however, open to one objection. The basis of the rule being the assumed intention of the legislature not to transgress the Constitutional barriers, how can that intention be assumed when at the time the law was passed there were no such barriers; and the presumption of constitutionality as to legislative competence were brought in by constitution long after the enactment of the law?.

Presumption of Constitutionality -

This criticism finds support from the decision of the Supreme Court in Gulabbhai v. Union of India,9 but as held in this case the principle of severability in application or severability in enforcement, if that be possible, may still be applied.

However, in spite of the above criticism it seems now settled that a pre-constitutional law can be read down by interpretation to avoid its being declared invalid as violating the Constitution.

Just as general words may be construed in a limited sense to avoid the presumption of constitutionality becoming unconstitutional, so also words may be construed in a wider sense if a narrower construction renders the law unconstitutional and that result is avoided by giving the words a wider meaning.

In an extreme case11 the Supreme Court, while upholding the validity of the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Processing of Claims Act, which confers exclusive power on the Central Government to make and prosecute all claims for compensation arising out of the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster, inferred an implied obligation of the Government to give interim relief to the victims or their dependents for their sustenance and maintenance.

Presumption of constitutionality

This obligation was inferred, as according to the majority view, it was necessary to sustain the constitutionality of the Act which had deprived the claimants, who were poor persons, to sue for damages or to enter into compromise or settlement in respect of their claims.

It was further held that sections 9 and 10 of the Act, which empowered the Government to frame a scheme for registration and processing of claims, and creation of a fund for administration of the scheme and presumption of constitutionality contemplated payments to claimants before adjudication or settlement of the claims by the court ought to be meaningfully construed to presumption of constitutionality the implied obligation.


A law enacted by Parliament and State Legislatures is therefore open to judicial review on the grounds of lack of legislative competence and violation of other provisions of the Constitution.

The rule applies unless the restricted meaning of the words makes the legislation incomplete or presumption of constitutionality. Likewise, at the Philadelphia ConventionVirginia delegate George Mason presumption of constitutionality that judges "could declare an unconstitutional law void.