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Aakritu   28 February 2022

Legal maxim

Where is the maxim "Leges Posteriores Priores Contrarias Abrogant" used and what are the exception cases when it is not?


 1 Replies

Aarushi   28 February 2022

The maxim of Leges Posteriores Priores Contrarias Abrogant forms the basis of the Doctrine of Implied Repeal. This maxim says that when a new law comes into force which is in a contradiction to a previous one, the latter shall be repealed. This is usually applied in cases where we see that two statutes are inconsistent to one another and the functioning of one will tamper with the functioning of the other. However, it is also promoted that repealing of laws must be avoided at all costs and should only be done when the two acts are completely interfering the harmonious working. This maxim deals with the principle of double jeopardy. It may happen that a single offence may be punishable under different provisions and thus the criminal may be prosecuted twice. This is strictly forbidden according to Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution, which says that no person can be punished twice for the same offence. The use of this maxim prevents that from happening. If there is a provision in the newer statute that defines a punishment for a certain offence, the same provision has to be eliminated from the older statute.                 

However, no matter what there are also certain exceptions where this maxim does not apply.

Zaverbhai Amaidas v. Sate of Bombay

In this case, the Court held that when faced with a statute formed by the Parliament, the statute formed by the State holds lesser importance and, in such cases, it is the Statute passed by the parliament which shall prevail.

Thoburn v. Sunderland City Council

In this case, the newer statute was in contradiction with the earlier formed constitutional provision. The Court held that a constitutional provision can never be repealed just by the formation of a new statute which is in contradiction to it, because a constitutional provision deals with the fundamental rights and the relation between an individual and state. In such cases, it is always the constitutional provision which will hold an upper hand.

M.P. V. Kedia Leather and Liquor Ltd.

In this case, the contradiction was between a special statute and a general one. The Court observed that when any law is passed by the legislature, it is always assumed that the legislature has full knowledge of the background and circumstances related to that particular matter and thus it is very important that we see whether or not the legislature intended to repeal the older act by bringing in the newer one, or would they just work in synergism to one another.

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