When anything is prohibited directly, it also prohibited indirectly.'
Under the color or guise of power given for one particular purpose the
legislature cannot seek to achieve some other purpose which is either wise not
competent to legislate on.
From the point of view of law, the subject matter of law falls within the power
of the legislature, but the respective effect or purpose of the matter is
actually beyond the authority and authority of the legislature. So in a way, the
doctrine limits the exaggeration or abuse of constitutional power given in a
secret manner. This is why the doctrine is also known as fraud on the
The origin of the doctrine often traced to the latin phrase Quando aliquid
prohibetur ex directo, prohibetur et per obliquum
7 which suggests whatever
cannot be done directly, it cannot be done indirectly. Basically, if legislation
is prohibited to something, it cannot be done indirectly by the legislature.
The question of colourable legislation was fully discussed by the supreme court
of India in K.C. Gajapati Narayan Deo v. Orissa, a choice which has been treated
as settling the law on the topic.
Other relevant cases:
K.C. Gajapati Narayan Deo v. Orissa
- State of Bihar V. Kameshwar Singh, AIR 1952 SC 252
- State of Madhya Pradesh V. Mahalaxmi fabric mills ltd, AIR 1995 SC 2213
- K.T. Moopil Nair V. The state of Kerala 1961 AIR 552, 1961 SCR (3) 77
- M.R. Balaji Vs. The state of Mysore 1963 AIR 649
If the constitution of a state distributes legislative powers among the various
bodies, which have to act in their respective areas marked by specific
legislative entries, Or if there are limits to the legislative authority in the
form of fundamental rights, the question arises whether the legislature in a
particular case has violated the limits of its constitutional powers in relation
to the subject matter of the law or the method of enacting it.
State Of Bihar v/s Kameshwar Singh
In this case, the Court applied the concept of the Doctrine of Colorable Law
and declared a law invalid. The Bihar Land Reforms Act 1950 was declared
illegal. it was purported to clearly lay down the principle of compensation, it
laid down no such principle and therefore sought to deprive the petitioner of
Sometimes the legislature makes a law which appears to be within its competence
but its effect and substance are beyond its limits. Then the law will be
declared void. In simple words, the law is colored differently. this does not
stop it from being declared an illegal law. Such a law is called a colorable
Article 246 of the Indian constitution has separate subjects for law making in
three list under the VIIth schedule:
- List 1: union list
- List 2: state list
- List 3: concurrent list
If the legislature tries to make laws on subject matter which is beyond the
scope of its power and it does so indirectly so as not to appear as if it has
legislated any law outside its scope, so this is called colorable legislation.
In conclusion, we can conclude that the State cannot change the color or form of
any law which is not within their jurisdiction to enforce it under the subject
matter of the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Because even according to
the principle of colorable law, what you cannot do directly, you cannot do it
indirectly. The constitution distributes legislative powers between the state
legislatures and the parliament, and each has to act in its own area.
With regard to a special legislation, the question may arise whether the
legislature has violated the limits imposed on it by the Constitution. Such
infringement may be patent, manifest or direct, but it may also be covert,
covert or indirect. It is for the latter class of cases that the expression is
the chromaticity law.
However, the underlying idea is that Evidently, a legislature, in passing a
statute supposedly to act within the limits of its powers, yet actually and in
fact violates these powers, which, upon due inquiry, appears to be, He is being
violated by pretense or pretense. If so, then the law in question is invalid.
By: Nitisha Sancheti