Explain the doctrine of colourable legislation and legislative accountability.. (250 Words)


             This doctrine states that “if the Constitution of a State distributes the legislative spheres marked out by specific legislative entries, or if there are limitations on the legislative authority in the shape of fundamental rights, question do arise as to whether the legislation in a particular case has not, in respect to the subject-matter of the statute or in the method of enacting it, transgressed the limits of its Constitutional powers”. (K.C. Gajpati Narain Dev v. State of Orissa case 1953)

                   Such transgression may be patent, manifest or direct, but may also be disguised, covered and indirect and it is to this latter class of cases that the expression “Colorable Legislation” has been applied in certain judicial pronouncements. It is also sometimes called as “Legislative Fraud”. In a federal Constitution transgression of its limits of power by legislation may be i) open, direct and overt OR ii) disguised, indirect and covert. The latter is termed as Colorable Legislation.  

  • The doctrine has no application where the powers of a Legislature are not pinioned by any Constitutional limitation.
  • The doctrine is also not applicable to subordinate legislation.

           Doctrine of Colorable Legislation signifies not to identify the color of the legislation but to identify that whether legislation is making the law under power given by the law under power given by the Constitution or it is usurping power to make law. So, laws made in disguise or in coward manner wherein legislature is expressly prohibited in making such law but law is made in different pretext to achieve the same objective; it is identified as colorable exercise of legislative power. The simple outcome of the aforesaid doctrine can be stated as whatever Legislature can’t do directly, he can’t do indirectly.  In this way Doctrine of Colorable Legislation take note of Legislative Accountability.

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