By- Shivachandra. Boosa



Legislations are drafted and enacted by the supporting staff and if there is any conflict between the meaning of the legislation/ statute the Judiciary comes into play. Judiciary plays a prominent role in interpreting the legislation there are various ways to interpret legislation/statute, one of the principle is used to interpret the legislation is the Principle Of Harmonious Construction. One of the motto of the Judiciary is to interpret the statutes intelligently and unambiguously so that the beauty of the legislation can be available to everyone.


In order to discuss the harmonious cconstruction, let us know what is meant by Harmonious Construction?

According to the dictionary meaning the Harmonious Construction means when there are two different but conflicting meanings of two different laws, they try to make a harmonious meaning ( so that both the law can be implemented).


     Rule of Harmonious Construction related to the interpretation of statute/ Legislation. Statue should be read as a whole and one provision of the act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.

     As per Supreme Court “when there are, enactment two provisions which cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted, that if possible, if it should be given to both”.

    In the landmark case of COMMISSIONER OF INCOME-TAX VERSUS HINDUSTAN BULK CARRIERS five principles for Harmonious Construction is laid down:

  1. The court must avoid conflict of contradictory provisions and they must interpret the contradictory provisions so as to harmonize them.
  2. Provision of one section cannot be used to defeat the provision contained in other.
  3. Court must interpret in such a way so that effect is given to both the provisions as much as possible.
  4. If Court reduces interpretation of one of the provisions to a useless number or dead, then it is not a Harmonious Construction.
  5. To harmonize is not to disturb any statutory / legislation provision for to render it fruitless.

     Two important maxim or to be noted herein harmonious construction first one GENERALIA SPECIALIBUS NON-DEROGANT and the second one GENERALIA SPECIALIBUS DEROGANT.

     The meaning of the first maxim is General things do not derogate from special things, the meaning of the second maxim is special things derogate from general things.

     The question as to the relative nature of the provision General or special has to be determined with reference to the area and extent of their application is generally or especially in particular situations.

Case Laws Regarding To Harmonious Construction

Venkataramana Devaru Versus State Of Mysore:

  •  In this case, there is a conflict between article 25(2)(b) and 26(b) of the constitution.
  • Supreme Court applied harmonious construction in resolving the conflict between the above sections.
  • In this case, it was held that the right of every religious denomination or any section thereof to manage it on affairs in matter of religion is subject to a law made by a state providing for social welfare and reformed throwing open of Hindu religious institution of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.

M.S.M Sharma Vs Krishna Sinha:

  • In this case, it was held that right of freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) is read as subject to powers, privileges and immunities of a house of the Legislature which are those of the house of commons of the United Kingdom as declared by letter part of article 194(3).
trade unions


Principle Of Harmonious Construction Is Also Applicable In Case Of Construction Of Provision Of Subordinate Legislation

Case Law:  Sirsilk Ltd Versus Government Of Andhra Pradesh

  • Some of the disputes between employer and workmen were referred to an Industrial Tribunal.
  • After the adjudication the Tribunal sends it’s award to the government for Publication.
  • However, before the award was published the parties to a dispute came to a settlement and wrote a letter to the government jointly intimating the fact that the dispute has been settled, hence award should not be published.
  • The government refused to which withhold the publication the employer approached the High Court for a writ, the High Court rejected the writ. The parties in appeal by special leave petition to Supreme Court.
  • The conflict of provisions under the industrial dispute act in section 17 and 18.
  • The supreme court held that the section is mandatory and ordinarily the government has to publish an award send it by the Tribunal, in special circumstances of the case and with a view to avoid conflict between the settlement binding under Section 18 (1) and award binding under Section 18 ( 3) and Publication it was held that only solution is to with whom the publication of about and this would not in any way affect the mandatory provision of section 17 of industrial dispute act 1947.


  1. Both the provisions which are incomplete to each other must be read as a whole.
  2. Then the provisions ought to be given full effect and then reduce the conflict between them.
  3. From the two conflicting provisions choose wider and narrower scope of this to separately
  4. From the wider provision subtract the narrow and see its effect.


Harmonious construction is one of the principles which give effect to both conflicting sections so it must be interpreted judicially so that no one should lose it power with misinterpretation.

It is one of the prominent tools in the hand of the judiciary while interpreting the legislations so it must be used with utmost care.

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