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  • Writer's pictureLAWGIC STRATUM

Doctrine of Harmonious Construction

Author: Aditi Kommareddi


Even if the legislature drafts laws with the utmost care and precision, taking into account all current situations and the future scenarios that may arise, it can often happen that an unexpected situation occurs. But sometimes the legislature also deliberately leaves loopholes in the law due to the lack of common consensus in parliament or because it believes that legal policy can be better implemented if decided on a case-by-case basis. For these reasons, there is a need to interpret and construct statutes and their provisions. One of them is many rules that the judiciary must adhere to when analyzing and creating ordinances, i.e; the doctrine of harmonious construction.

The law can be understood as a device to keep society calm and free from trouble and also for the prevention of conflicts between people by regulating their behavior. Laws promulgated to regulate society are written by legal experts, and it can very well be foreseen that many of the enacted laws will not be specific and will contain ambiguous words and expressions. Very often, we find that the courts and lawyers are busy deciphering the meaning of such words and expressions and resolving the inconsistency. This had led to the creation of specific rules of interpretation of the statutes.

What is Harmonious Construction?

The term harmonious construction refers to such a structure that harmony or unity is achieved between different provisions of a proclamation. When the words of the legal requirement have more than one meaning, and there is doubt as to which purpose should prevail, such a definition should predominate should be adopted that the words best harmonize with the subject and subject of the enactment. According to this rule, a statute must be read as a whole, and a provision of the law must be interpreted with reference to other provisions of the same law to make consistent promulgation of the entire statute. Such an interpretation is beneficial to avoid any inconsistency or distaste within a section or between a section and other parts of the statute.

The Five Main Principle rules of Harmonious Construction:

1. The courts must avoid any clash of seemingly contradicting provisions, and they must construe the contradictory provisions so as to harmonize them.[1]

2. The provision of one section cannot be used to defeat the provision contained in another unless the court, despite all its effort, is unable to find a way to reconcile their differences.[2]

3. When it is impossible to completely reconcile the differences in contradictory provisions, the courts must interpret them in such a way so that effect is given to both the provisions as much as possible.[3]

4. Courts must also keep in mind that interpretation that reduces one provision to a useless number or dead is not harmonious construction.[4]

5. To harmonize is not to destroy any statutory provision or to render it fruitless.[5]

A familiar approach in all these cases is to find out which of the two contradictory provisions are more specific and common and to interpret the more available to exclude the more specific. General or particular, must be determined with reference to the scope and scope of its application, whether general or especially in specific situations, this principle is expressed in the maxims Generaliaspecialibusnon-derogant and Generaliaspecial ibusderogant. The harmonious construction rule can also be used to resolve a conflict between a provision of the law and a rule made under the law. Furthermore, this principle is also used to determine a dispute between two different laws and in rulemaking and legal orders. But if there are two r Medications for a situation, one general and one specific, and both are incompatible with each other, they continue to be valid for the interested person to choose, until they choose one of them.

Procedure for Implementing Doctrine:

The principle of harmonic construction requires the following four steps to be effective:

1. These two conflicting provisions must be read as a whole concerning the entire edict in question.

2. Give both of them the full effect and then reduce the conflict.

3. If there are two contradicting provisions, choose a broader and narrower scope of these two separately, and from the more comprehensive provision subtract the narrow one and see the consequence.

4. If the consequence is so reasonable that both provisions are harmonized, and there is full effect separately, no further examination is required.

Case Laws Pertaining to Harmonious Construction:

1. Re-Kerala Education Bill 1951[6]

In this case, it was decided that the court must take into account the principle of guidelines and adopt the principle of harmonious construction when deciding on the fundamental rights. So two possibilities are achieved as far as possible by a balance.

2. East India Hotels Ltd. Union of India[7]

It was established that a law must be read as a whole, the various provisions must be harmonized and the effect transferred to all of them.

3. Qureshi v.State of Bihar[8]

In this case, the top priority The court ruled that the state should implement the principle of directives in such a way that it does not impair the fundamental right.

4. In VenkataramanaDevaru v State of Mysore[9],

The Supreme Court applied the rule of harmonious construction in resolving a conflict between Article 25 (2). (b) and 26 (b) of the Constitution and it has been determined that the right of any religious denomination or section thereof to regulate its affairs in religious matters [Article 26 (b)] is governed by a law of a state which provides for social welfare and reforms or opens Hindu religious institutions of a public nature to all classes and sections of Hindus [Article 25 (2) (b)].

5. In M.S.M. Sharma v. Krishna Sinha[10],

the same rule has been applied to resolve the conflict between Article 19 (1) (a) and 194 (3) of the Constitution. It has been found that the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) is that read as subject to the powers, privileges, and immunities of any House of Legislature which is those of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom as stated in the last part of Article 194, paragraph 3.


The law is made by the legislator and there is the possibility of situations of ambiguity, in which the rule of interpretation of the statutes comes into play and the provisions are interpreted in a way that gives them maximum effect. judges to interpret the two conflicting laws easily and help bring justice to society at large, making it one of the most important tools in the hands of the judiciary when performing any statute interpretation.


[1]CIT v. Hindustan Bulk Carriers, (2003) 3 SCC 57, p. 74. [2] Ibid. [3]Sultana Begum v. Premchand Jain, AIR 1997 SC 1006, pp. 1009, 1010. [4]CIT v. Hindustan Bulk Carriers, (2003) 3 SCC 57, p. 74. [5]Ibid. [6]Re: The Kerala Education Bill vs Unknown,(1958)1959 1 SCR 995 [7] East India Hotels Ltd. Union of India (2001) 1 SCC 284 [8]Qureshi v.State of Bihar, 1959 SCR 629 [9]Sri VenkataramanaDevaruand vs The State Of Mysore, (1957) 1958 AIR 255 [10]Pandit M. S. M. Sharma vs Shri Sri Krishna Sinha And Others 1958 1959 AIR 395

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