This article has been written by Ms. Shruti Medhekar, a 4th year BA.LLB student of Keshav Memorial College of Law.
A constitution is a set of rules and principles which governs and regulates the state and the government. Generally it defines the powers, procedures, structure and functioning of the government. In most of the countries the constitution is codified and is considered as the supreme law of the land.
Constitution of India is one of such which is above all and is considered to be supreme of all the laws in India. It sets out the basic structure and functions of the government in the form of directive principles of state and also has the important provision of fundamental rights and duties which is given to the citizens of India. All the citizens of India are obligated to follow and abide by the constitution and the violation of which opens to severe consequences.
THIRD CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ACT, 1954:
The third constitutional amendment which is officially known as The Constitution (Third Amendment Act), 1954 speaks about the entry 33 of the concurrent list in the seventh schedule of the constitution. The following amendment precisely sets out terms with regards to amplifying and inclusion of few more classes of essential commodities in the entry 33 of the concurrent list.
Entry 33 of the concurrent list in the seventh schedule of the constitution (prior to the 1954 amendment) is ordained as follows “Trade and commerce in, and the production, supply and distribution of, the products of industries where the control of such industries by the union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest.”
The comprehensive entry of terms which are set out in the amendment bill states as follows:
“33. Trade and commerce in, and the production, supply and distribution of-
a. the products of any industry where the control of such industry by the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest, and imported goods of the same kind as such products;
b. foodstuffs, including edible oil seeds and oils;
c. cattle fodder, including oilcakes and other concentrates;
d. raw cotton whether ginned or unginned, and cotton seeds; and
e. raw jute.”
The following third amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, represented by the Minister of Commerce and Industry T. T. Krishnamachari. This bill was approved and by the Rajya Sabha and following the ratifications from different states, it received assent from the President of India on 22 February 1955 and the same was notified in The Gazette of India and came into force on same date.
As one of the features of the Indian constitution is both rigid and flexible at times it becomes difficult to make few amendments. Depending on the degree of rigidity and flexibility they have been provided with 3 different classes of amendment:
- When the enactment or provisions to be amended are of less importance it can be done by simple legislative process.
- When the enactment or provision to be amended include matters of some material importance affecting huge aspects then it is to be amended by the rule of special majority as mentioned in article 368.
- When the enactment or provision to be amended is an entrenched one then it requires special majority in both the houses of Parliament and also ratification by half of state legislatures.
While on the subject of constitutional validity of any Act it means that an act or statute is constitutionally valid when the legislature which is having the power to formulate any enactments has formulated them by not invalidating any previous statutes or enactments and any courts decisions. And further an Act may be declared unconstitutional when it violates any of the fundamental rights of the citizens as provided to them in the constitution.
Focusing on the third constitutional amendment prior to this amendment the production, supply and distribution was exclusively in the hands and control of the state legislature and subsequently after the amendment this similar control was given to both the state and the union by amplifying the entry 33 of the concurrent list. The controlled industries were exclusively under the control of the union under entry 52 and the other industries were under the control of state legislature under entry 24 and the products of that industries were mentioned under entry 27. So considering the above entries prior to the amendment the state and union had exclusive right to make enactments over the specific essential commodities, which are now included by amplifying the entry 33 of the concurrent list and empowering both the state and union to make enactments together on those matters. But in the matters of conflict between the state and the union the decision of the union will prevail over the decision of the state.
In Ch. Tika Ramji & Others v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Others, AIR 1956 SC 676 the issue arose as to whether the state of Uttar Pradesh had the right to fix the price of sugarcane as it was known that both the sugar field and sugarcane both the state and the union had the power to make laws and both had the jurisdiction due to it falling under entry 33 of the concurrent list. The five judge bench in this case held that once the Central Government fixes the minimum price of sugarcane the state government doesn’t have any right to fix the minimum price of sugarcane. It further held that the state government under section 16 of the U.P. Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act, 1953 fix the advised price which is in all times higher than the minimum price.
Similar view was held by the court in the case of State of U.P. Cooperative Cane Unions Federations v. West U.P. Sugar Mills Association, 2004 5 SCC 430.
In another case of Ganga Sugar Corporation Ltd. v. The State of U.P.(1980) 1 SCC 223 AIR 1980 SC 286 the constitutional validity of the Sugarcane Purchase Act was challenged based on the contention that the it was ultra vires for the State to make laws in this matter. Referring to the Tika Ramji case (supra) upheld the validity and stated that the matter regarding the sales tax which is mentioned under entry 54 of list II cannot be confused with entry 52 of List I. Each list is different and separated from each other and cannot be confused with the entries of other list unless clearly mentioned through any provisions.
Further in the case of Prabhudayal Agarwalla and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. the petitioners were the owners of different husking machines who got them licensed under the Rice Milling Industry (Regulation) Act, 1958 for a period of one year. Prior to expiry of the year the state government of West Bengal issued ordinances in relation to the rice mills matter which was not accepted by the petitioners and the owners of the husking machines contended that the rice milling industry is a controlled industry as declared under entry 52 of list I (union list) and the state of West Bengal did not have the jurisdiction as it does not fall under the list II (state list). And further rice milling industry does not fall under entry 33 of the list III (concurrent list) so that both the state and union could make laws in respect of the following matter.
In the latest passing of the three farm law bills: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act by the Parliament led to agitations and protests by the farmers questioning the validity of entry 33 of the concurrent list which has been used as a defense by the Union in passing of the three farm law bills. Passing of these three farm bills with respect to the agricultural sector, questions arose whether the Parliament has the power and competence to pass the laws in respect to agricultural sector? And as included in the entry 33 through the Third Amendment Act, 1954 does the foodstuffs include all the agricultural produce and all the agricultural stuffs. Taking a look into the entries of three lists which include the term agriculture still does not emphasize the Union to pass the following three farm bills stepping over their jurisdiction and acting ultra vires.
In conclusion the passing of the Third Amendment Act, 1954 which re-enacted and amplified the entry 33 of the concurrent list in the seventh schedule of the constitution of India led to many questioning the validity of both the state and union legislature while making enactments with respect to the matters enumerated in entry 33 of the concurrent list. The above mentioned cases referred to the constitutional validity and the competence of both the state and union legislature in formulating laws. The following amendment though created ambiguity in the interpretation of terms included in the entry 33, was done only with the intent to expand the legislative powers of both the state and union.
- Ch. Tika Ramji & Others v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Others, AIR 1956 SC 676
- State of U.P. Cooperative Cane Unions Federations v. West U.P. Sugar Mills Association, 2004 5 SCC 430.
- Ganga Sugar Corporation Ltd. v. The State of U.P.(1980) 1 SCC 223 AIR 1980 SC 286
- Prabhudayal Agarwalla and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors
- A.K. Jain & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. 25 July, 1969
- Indian Kanoon.org
- The wire.in
- Indian Constitutional Law – M P Jain
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