[Case Brief] Babulal Parate v State of Bombay and Another, 1960

Babulal Parate v State of Bombay and Another was decided on 28th August 1959. It was decided by a five-judge bench of the Honourable Supreme Court. The appellant in the present case is Babulal Parate while the respondent is the State of Bombay.

Brief facts and procedural history:

On December 22, 1953, the Prime Minister of India made a statement in Parliament to the effect that a commission would be appointed to examine “objectively and dispassionately” the question of the reorganization of the states of the Indian Union “so that the welfare of the people of each constituent unit, as well as the nation as a whole, is promoted”. Thus the commission was appointed which submitted its report on April 18, 1956, wherein a Bill was introduced in the House of People entitled The States Reorganization Bill. Clause 8, 9 and 10 contained a proposal for the formation of three separate units, namely, (1) union Territory of Bombay; (2) State of Maharashtra including Marathwada and Vidharbha and (3) State of Gujarat including Saurashtra and Cutch.

The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation of the president as required by the proviso to article 3 of the Constitution. This was referred to the Joint Select Committee of both the houses which made its report on July 16, 1956. Some of the parts of the Bill were amended in parliament and on being passed by both the houses, it received the resident’s assent on August 31, 1956, and became known as States Reorganisation Act, 1956 hereinafter called the act. Under section 8(1) of the act, a composite state of Bombay was constituted instead of three separate units

The appellant on September 12, 1956 filed a writ petition under article 226 of the Constitution in the High court of Bombay in which he alleged that the formation of the composite state of Bombay contravened article 3 of the constitution in as much as the legislature of Bombay had no opportunity of expressing its views on such a formation. The appellant accordingly prayed that section 4 and other allied sections of the act are null and void and thus they should not be enforced and implemented. The writ petition was dismissed by the Bombay High court saying that there is no violation of article 3 of the Constitution. Thus the appellant has filed this appeal under section 132(1) of the Indian Constitution by obtaining the competent certificate.

Issue before the court:

What is the scope and effect of Article 3 of the Indian Constitution and particularly that of the proviso thereto as it stands after the Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Act, 1955?

Ratio of the author (As authored by Justice SK Das):

It is clear that the article gives certain power to the parliament to make law in respect of any of the five matters as mentioned in clauses (a) to (e). The substance part of the article is followed by proviso which lays down certain conditions for exercise of such power. The conditions laid down by the proviso are:

  1. No bill shall be introduced except by the recommendation of the president.
  2. Where the proposal contained in the bill affects the boundaries, area or name of the state it has to be referred by the president to the legislature of that state for expressing its views.

But there is nothing in the proviso which says that the parliament must accept or act upon the views as expressed by the state legislature.  Thus the essential element of the second proviso is that the proposal should be referred to the state legislature by the president. The proviso does not say that if and when a proposal contained in the Bill is modified subsequently by an amendment properly moved and accepted in Parliament, there must be a fresh reference to the State Legislature and a fresh bill must be introduced.

Article 1 of our Constitution says that India is a Union of States and the States and the territories thereof are specified in a Schedule. There is, therefore, no difficulty in understanding what is meant by the expression “state” in Article 3. It obviously refers to the States in the First Schedule and the ‘Legislature of the State’ refers to the Legislature which each State has under the Constitution. That being the position there is no reason for importing into the construction of Article 3 any doctrinaire consideration of the sanctity of the rights of States or even for giving an extended meaning to the expression “State” occurring therein.

Wherever the introduction of an amendment is subject to a condition precedent, as in the case of financial bills, the Constitution has used the expression “A bill or amendments”, e.g. in Article 117. No such expression occurs in Article 3. Secondly, under Article 118 Parliament has power to make rules of its own procedure and conduct of business, including the moving of amendments etc. Rule 80 of the rules of procedure of the House of the People (Lok Sabha) lays down the conditions which govern the admissibility of amendments to clauses or schedules of a Bill, and one of the conditions is that an amendment shall be within the scope of the Bill and relevant to the subject-matter of the clause to which it relates. Article 122(1) of the Constitution says that the validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.

Decision Held:

There is no violation of article 3 of the constitution and the act or any of its provision is not invalid on that ground. The appeal is failed and is dismissed with cost.


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