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Analysis On Doctrine Of Severability In R.M.D.C Case

Background Of The Case
The petitioners, M/S R.M.D.C., have been running prize tournaments in Mysore since 1948. Their operations were governed by the Mysore Lotteries and Prize Competitions Control and Tax Act, 1951. In this case, Section 2(d) of the Prize Competition Act was basically disputed. The federal government passed the Prize Competition Act, 1955 following an appeal by the several states in the country.

This Act has received appreciation from other states, such as the State of Mysore. However, the State accepted that the Union would have exclusive control over prize competitions. Later on, though, the State itself passed a law amending some of the clauses of the act, giving it the right to impose taxes. R.M.D.C. (the petitioners) questioned the State's actions, arguing that they exceeded their legislative jurisdiction.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the concept of a colorable law applied since the State of Mysore was attempting to covertly control prize competition behaviour by assuming taxing authority. In the case of R.M.D.C. v. Union of India[1], which involved constitutional validity, Article 19(6) of the Indian Constitution was questioned. In response to the petitioner's allegations, the respondents provided strong arguments for why the lottery and gambling enterprises the petitioners were running did not infringe any of the fundamental rights protected by Part III of the constitution since they did not come under the trade category.

Mr. Palkhivala appeared on behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Seervai on behalf of the respondent. The parties put up their arguments and claims before the Apex Court. The severability notion, which establishes whether sections of the Act governing prize contests are regarded legitimate or invalid, is at the core of the controversy.

International Law Pertaining To The Doctrine Of Severability

The separability theory is not a new idea; it has been in use for a very long time. Other countries have welcomed it, including the United States of America, Australia, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom in addition to our own India. The Nordenfelt v. Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company Ltd[2]. case in England, United Kingdom, is where the theory of severability first emerged.

The first case was determined in the United States of America in 1876, and it eventually extends to other countries. The question of whether Congress would have passed the legislation in the first place if it had known it was unconstitutional emerged after this. The crux of this particular problem was the fifteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, which said that a male citizen cannot be denied the right to vote on the grounds of race, colour, or other criteria.

These worldwide examples provided a basic knowledge of the act's sole purpose and whether or not eliminating the invalid elements of the act will affect its remaining legal components. If it is determined that the act is invalid, the entire thing is nullified. The main tenet of the severability notion was this.

Title Of The Issue
Citing the respondents' violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 32 of the constitution, the petitioner has filed a suit claiming that the respondents' imposition of a restriction on the applicant's capacity to conduct business is a violation of Article 19(6) of the constitution. The responders also maintained that contests involving gambling are exempt from the provisions of Section 2(d) of the Prize Competition Act, 1955.

On the other hand, the petitioners said that Section 2(d) of the Act defines prize competition extremely broadly, including contests that were primarily skill-based in addition to those that were gambling-related-a component of the petitioner's business. Additionally, the Union of India contested this. The respondents contended that the definition, as correctly interpreted, meant and included only gambling competitions, and that even in the event that this was not the case, the contested provisions remained valid because they were severable in their application with regard to gambling competitions.

Petitioner's Appellation
  1. Section 2(d) of the Prize Competition Act, 1955 covered all competitions with a gambling component as well as those where ability was the primary determinant of victory.
  2. The respondents' imposition of limitations on the petitioners is a violation of their fundamental right as established by Article 19(6) of the constitution.
  3. The petitioners said that because the unlawful and legal portions of the Prize Competition Act, 1955 are intertwined and both void, it is impossible to distinguish between them.

Perspective Of The Resultant
  1. According to the respondents, the meaning of "prize competition" in s. Correctly understood, 2(d) of the Act only applies to competitions where talent plays a little role in the outcome, and gambling activities are not regarded as business or trade.
  2. The petitioners are unable to file their petition under Article 32 and, thus, are not allowed to claim the protection of Art. 19(6) since there hasn't been a violation of Art. 19(1)(g).
  3. The participants indicated their pleasure that, in the event that a piece of the Prize Competition Act is determined to be unconstitutional, that portion should be removed; nevertheless, the Act should not be deemed entirely illegal.

The primary area of contention in R.M.D.C. v. Union of India is the concept of severability, which is best described as the principle that applies to both current and future legislation. It suggests that the Court won't declare the Act to be unconstitutional in its whole, even if certain of its parts are invalid. If not, the lawful aspect of that particular behaviour will continue to be lawful. The R.M.D.C. v. Union of India litigation is upon the legitimacy of the Prize Competition Act and the legality or illegality of its provisions.

Doctrine Of Severability

The notion of separability is another term for the concept of severability. The idea was created by the Supreme Court to answer the question of whether laws that have been declared illegal can still be in force. When a section of a legislation is found to be unconstitutional, the question of whether the entire statute must be declared unconstitutional or simply a piece of it does arise.

The concept of severability states that a legislation is only unconstitutional to the extent that it infringes upon the Fundamental Rights set out in Article 13 of the Constitution. Stated differently, we may better understand this idea by using the example of a rotten apple, where the edible part of the fruit remains intact even after the decaying piece is removed. But if the rotten half has gotten so tightly interwoven with the good part that it can't be separated, then the entire apple needs to be thrown away.

Basis Of The Doctrine

Article 13 is the cornerstone of the Doctrine of Severability. It has two essential provisions, 13(1) and 13(2).
  1. Article 13(1) states that any laws that were in effect before the constitution was adopted and are determined to be in conflict with the provisions of this chapter will be ruled invalid to the extent of the disagreement.
  2. Article 13(2) states that the State is not allowed to enact laws that limit or abolish the rights guaranteed by this Part. Laws that do so shall be deemed unlawful to the extent that they contravene this clause.

Cases Including The Doctrine Of Severability

Regarding the case of A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras [3]challenged his incarceration on the grounds that it had infringed his fundamental rights, including Articles 19, 21, and 22. The political figure had been imprisoned in the Madras Jail in accordance with the Preventive incarceration Act of 1950.

He argued that since article 19 secured the freedom of movement as a fundamental right, the defense counsel needed to show that the preventive detention act was a lawful limitation that complied with each of the five elements of article 19(2). The Supreme Court rejected the argument, ruling that his detention followed the proper legal process. The Indian Supreme Court at the time believed that every provision of the constitution was unique.

A petitioner named F.N. The case of State of Bombay v. F.N Balsara[4]. According to the Balsara case, the Bombay Prohibition Act, which prohibited the import and export of spirits and prohibited their sale or possession in the state, was challenged on the grounds that it violated certain fundamental rights. It was mentioned that the sale, consumption, possession, and prohibition of alcoholic drinks will have an effect on imports.

The court maintained the Act's legality notwithstanding its inadvertent infringement on Union Powers of Legislation since its essential elements were listed under the State List as opposed to the Union List.

The severability doctrine was used in the Minerva Mills v. Union of India [5]case. Sections 4 and 55 of the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 were declared unconstitutional in this instance due to their exceeding of the amending power of the Parliament. The Act's remaining provisions, however, were maintained.

Next, in another Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu [6]known as the defection case. In this case, it was determined that the Tenth Schedule's paragraph 7, which was first included by the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985, was unlawful because it contravened Article 368(2). But the constitutionality of the entire clause was maintained. Thus, the remaining sections of the Tenth Schedule-aside from paragraph 7-were retained by the Constitution.

In the State of Bombay v. United Motors (India Ltd) case[7], the validity of the 1952 Bombay Sales Tax Act was disputed. The respondents claimed that because this Act violates their fundamental rights protected by Articles 13, 14, and 19, it is unconstitutional. The argument was that the Act was a complete statute with particular procedures to deal with any problems that came up under it, including questions about its legality. The petition could not be maintained as a result.

In relation to D.S. Union of India v. Nakara[8], 1983 AIR S.C. 130, where the Act itself remained lawful but certain of its provisions were declared illegal because they could be isolated from the rest of the Act.

The Central Provinces' Section 4(2) and the Berar Regulation of Manufacturers of Bidis of 1948, which declared that:
"No person residing in a village specified in such order shall during the agricultural season engage himself in the manufacture of bidis, and no manufacturer shall during the said season employ any person for the manufacture of bidis," were in question in the Madhya Pradesh state law case of Chintaman Rao v. State of MP[9].

This Court found that in order to achieve the Act's objective of creating regulations to guarantee an adequate labour supply for agricultural requirements in bidi industrial zones, the restrictions imposed by Section 4(2) went beyond what was required. The Court decided that Sec. 4(2) could not be enforced unless it was revised since it is inseparable by design. Essentially, all that is being decided here is whether or not the particular clause that was disputed may be severed.

Concerning Article 19(6)

Subclause (g) of the aforementioned clause shall not impair the operation of any existing law to the extent that it imposes, or forbid the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right granted by the said subclause, in the interests of the general public; no specific law shall be affected by the said subclause to the extent that it relates to, or forbid the State from making any law relating to:
  1. the professional or technical qualifications needed to work for any kind of business, trade, or occupation, or
  2. Any trade, business, industry, or service operated by the State or a firm under its ownership or control, whether fully or partially at the cost of human beings.

Constitutionality Of The Arguments Made

In the R.M.D.C. v. Union of India case, the Prize Competition Act, 1955 was mentioned as a breach of Article 19(6) of the Indian constitution.

A "prize competition" is defined as any competition-whether called a crossword, missing-word, picture, or by any other name-in which prizes are awarded for solving puzzles involving the construction, arrangement, combination, or permutation of letters, words, or figures. This definition is found in Section 2(d) of The Prize Competition Act.

The first point of contention in this instance is whether the definition that was previously provided includes:
It is possible to argue that gambling is accepted and permitted by law, maybe through rules, licenses, etc., but a transaction does not automatically become commercial merely because it is sanctioned by the law or is lawful and not illegal. Therefore, Art. 19(1)(g) does not provide protection for the selling of lottery tickets, as this involves gambling. Furthermore, according to Prize C, trading in lotteries or gambling cannot be regarded as trade since trading involves skill and no chance, but gambling combines both chance and talent.

In addition, no prize competition may have more than two thousand competitors. "No one shall sponsor or arrange any prize competition or competitions in which the aggregate value of the prize or awards (cash or otherwise) to be awarded in any given month exceeds one thousand rupees.

Any person who wishes to promote a prize competition or competitions in which the total value of the prize or prizes (whether in cash or another form) to be offered in any given month cannot exceed one thousand rupees, subject to the provisions of section 4, must obtain a license granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder.

The State Governments are empowered by Section 20 to establish regulations to implement the Act's goals. The Central Government established regulations for the Part C States using the powers conferred by this clause, and most of the States have ratified them. The petitioners are arguing that two of these rules-specifically, 11 and 12-are unlawful.

Entry Charge:
  1. Should a competition for prizes have an entrance fee, no other form of payment will be accepted; cash only.
  2. When a prize or prizes to be granted have a total value of one thousand rupees or more, but not less than five hundred rupees, no entry price may be collected in excess of Re; in all other cases, the maximum amount of an admission fee should be at the following rates, specifically:
Upkeep of Register: Every licensee for a prize competition for which a license has been issued must maintain a record in Form C. They must also take the following steps to ensure that, for each competition, no more than two thousand entries are received for examination.
  1. Prepare to receive submissions at the business address listed in the license alone;
  2. Serialize the entries according to the order in which they were received;
  3. Enter the relevant information about each entry in the register using Form C as soon as it is received, and in any case, no later than the end of business hours on the same day; and
  4. Accept only the first two thousand entries for examination as they appear in the register in Form C. If there is no entry fee, discard the remaining entries, if any, and if there is, return the entry fee to the respective senders of the entries after the first two thousand, less any applicable refund costs.
Mr. Palkhiwala contended, citing the aforementioned sections and clauses, that Section 2(d) of this Act would apply to competitions in which success is largely determined not only by chance but also by skill; that the requirements outlined in Sections 4 and 5 as well as the previously mentioned Rules 11 and 12 are totally unrealistic and would render the competition unfeasible; that these requirements gravely violate the petitioners' fundamental right to conduct business; and that these requirements are irrational and therefore cannot be upheld under Article 19(6) of the Constitution.

Appearing on behalf of the respondent, Mr. Seervai questions the accuracy of these claims. According to his argument, the term "prize competition" as defined in Section 2(d) of the Act should only be used to describe competitions where the winners are primarily gambling and their success does not depend on skill to a significant extent; gambling activities are not considered trade or business under Art. 19(1)(g) and, as such, the petitioners are not eligible to claim protection under Art. 19(6). 2(d) is sufficiently broad to cover contests where skill and ss play a significant role in determining outcome. Act sections 4 and 5.

Since the Act is severable in its application to competitions of a gambling nature, 11 and 12 are to be struck down with regard to such competitions as unjustified restrictions not covered by Art. 19(6). This would not affect the validity of the enactment with regard to the competitions that are of a gambling nature. Mr. Palkhiwala contends that because the enactment's wording is explicit and plain, we are not permitted to interpret a limitation-based on irrelevant or other factors-into it.

Currently, the court's job is to determine "the intent of them that make it" when a dispute about how to interpret a statute arises. Naturally, this can only be done by looking at the words that are actually used in the legislation. That does not, however, imply that the choice should be made only on the basis of a literal reading of the text without consideration for any other information. "

A Compilation Of The Rumage
In R.M.D.C. v. Union of India, the question was whether Section 2(d) of the Prize Competition Act, 1955, as written, included all contests, including the petitioners' gambling. Because of a number of the Act's contested aspects, the petitioners in this case argued that Art. 19(6) had been violated. The Supreme Court decided that the question of whether or not there has been a breach of such rights would not be allowed to continue because gambling is not considered a trade and therefore does not violate fundamental rights.

After considering all the relevant factors, the Supreme Court determined that the severability doctrine would apply in this case, removing the unlawful parts of the Act while maintaining the enforceability of the other portions. In making its ruling, the court established the different

Guidelines Established By The Apex Court Regarding The Issue Of Separability

  1. If the legal and unconstitutional portions of the Act are entirely entwined and so indistinguishable from one another, the entire Act would be null and void.
  2. Whether or whether the statute's legal and invalid components may be separated depends only on the legislature's purpose.
  3. If it is possible to discern between the legitimate and invalid elements of the law, the remaining valid piece that might be utilized to produce a whole code apart from the other sections will be evaluated and kept only after that.
  4. Even if the valid provisions are distinct and independent from the invalid ones and are intended to function as a whole, the invalidity of even one of them will result in the collapse of the entire plan.
  5. If the valid and invalid portions of the statute are distinct from one another and do not form any part of the Scheme, the entire section will be rejected; however, what remains after the invalid portion is removed is so narrow and condensed that it is fundamentally different from what was originally proposed by the legislature.
  6. The severability of the valid and invalid provisions of the Statute does not depend on whether the provisions are enacted in the same or different ways; rather, what matters is the content, not the form, and must be determined by looking at the Act as a whole and the settings of the pertinent provisions therein.
  7. If the invalid part of the Act was deleted and the other elements could not be enforced without further adjustments, the Act as a whole would be declared unconstitutional; judicial legislation would ensue otherwise.
  8. To determine the legislative intent on the matter of severability, consideration may be given to the legislation's history, title, preamble, and purpose.

The severability theory requires the relevant courts to distinguish between the legitimate and invalid portions of an Act. To achieve this, the court must thoroughly examine the relevant sections, take into account the previously mentioned guidelines, and take into account the purpose of the Act.

The Prize Competition Act of 1955 was created to provide guidelines and regulations for prize contests; therefore, the factor to be taken into account for determining whether the Act is constitutional is what remains after the contested parts have been eliminated, i.e. This Act is still in effect in Sections 4 and 5. It was decided that the Act's valid portions would be unaffected by the removal of these invading sections.

This is the first and most important step in determining the legality and validity of the entire Act. What was in place prior to the Act's passage? We must consider all relevant circumstances, including the legislation's history and intended aims, in order to determine the real extent of the current Act and determine the legislature's intention.

  1. R.M.D.C. v. Union of India, (1957) AIR SC 628
  2. Nordenfelt v. Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company Ltd (1894) AC 535
  3. A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras, (1950) AIR SC 27
  4. State of Bombay v. F.N Balsara, (1951) AIR SC 318
  5. Minerva Mills v. Union of India, (1980) AIR SC 1789
  6. Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu, (1992) SCR (1) 686
  7. State of Bombay v. The United Motors (India Ltd), (1953) AIR 252
  8. D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, (1983) AIR SC 130
  9. Chintaman Rao v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1951) AIR 118

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