Substantive Law, Procedural Law and Declaratory Law

A statute creating vested rights is a substantive statute. The Suprme Court, in Dhenkanal Minor Irrigation Division v. N.C. Budharaj, (2001) 2 SCC 721, opined:
“‘Substantive law’, is that part of the law which creates, defines and regulates rights in contrast to what is called adjective or remedial law which provides the method of enforcing rights. Decisions, including the one in Jena case, (1988) 1 SCC 418, while adverting to the question of substantive law has chosen to indicate by way of illustration laws such as Sale of Goods Act, 1930 [Section 61(2)], Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (Section 80), etc. The provisions of the Interest Act, 1839, which prescribe the general law of interest and become applicable in the absence of any contractual or other statutory provisions specially dealing with the subject, would also answer the description of substantive law.”
In Thirumalai Chemicals Ltd. v. Union of India, (2011) 6 SCC 739 the Supreme Court comparing substantial law with procedural law, stated:

“Substantive law refers to a body of rules that creates, defines and regulates rights and liabilities. Right conferred on a party to prefer an appeal against an order is a substantive right conferred by a statute which remains unaffected by subsequent changes in law, unless modified expressly or by necessary implication. Procedural law establishes a mechanism for determining those rights and liabilities and a machinery for enforcing them. Right of appeal being a substantive right always acts prospectively. It is trite law that every statute is prospective unless it is expressly or by necessary implication made to have retrospective operation.
Right of appeal may be a substantive right but the procedure for filing the appeal including the period of limitation cannot be called a substantive right, and an aggrieved person cannot claim any vested right claiming that he should be governed by the old provision pertaining to period of limitation. Procedural law is retrospective meaning thereby that it will apply even to acts or transactions under the repealed Act.”
In Shyam Sunder v. Ram Kumar, (2001) 8 SCC 24, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court discussing the scope and ambit of a declaratory law has observed:
“Lastly, it was contended on behalf of the appellants that the amending Act whereby new Section 15 of the Act has been substituted is declaratory and, therefore, has retroactive operation. Ordinarily when an enactment declares the previous law, it requires to be given retroactive effect. The function of a declaratory statute is to supply an omission or to explain a previous statute and when such an Act is passed, it comes into effect when the previous enactment was passed. The legislative power to enact law includes the power to declare what was the previous law and when such a declaratory Act is passed, invariably it has been held to be retrospective. Mere absence of use of the word ‘declaration’ in an Act explaining what was the law before may not appear to be a declaratory Act but if the court finds an Act as declaratory or explanatory, it has to be construed as retrospective. Conversely where a statute uses the word ‘declaratory’, the words so used may not be sufficient to hold that the statute is a declaratory Act as words may be used in order to bring into effect new law.”
In Katikara Chintamani Dora v. Guntreddi Annamanaidu, (1974) 1 SCC 567 it was held:
“It is well settled that ordinarily, when the substantive law is altered during the pendency of an action, rights of the parties are decided according to law, as it existed when the action was begun unless the new statute shows a clear intention to vary such rights (Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 12th Edn. 220). That is to say, ‘in the absence of anything in the Act, to say that it is to have retrospective operation, it cannot be so construed as to have the effect of altering the law applicable to a claim in litigation at the time when the Act is passed’.” Purbanchal Cables & Conductors (P) Ltd. v. Assam SEB, (2012) 7 SCC 462.

Substantive law refers to a body of rules that creates, defines and regulates rights and liabilities. Right conferred on a party to prefer an appeal against and order is a substantive right conferred by a statute which remains unaffected by subsequent changes in law, unless modified expressly or by necessary implication. Procedural law establishes a mechanism for determining those rights and liabilities and a machinery for enforcing them. Right of appeal being a substantive right always acts prospectively. It is trite law that every statute is prospective unless it is expressly or by necessary implication made to have retrospective operation.

Right of appeal may be a substantive right but the procedure for filing the appeal including the period of limitation cannot be called a substantive right and an aggrieved person cannot claim any vested right claiming that he should be governed by the old provision pertaining to period of limitation. Procedural law is retrospective, meaning thereby that it will apply even to acts or transactions under the repealed Act. M.P. Steel Corporation v. Commissioner of Central Excise, (2015) 7 SCC 58.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil Law, Criminal Law

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s