MEANING OF “CENTRAL ACT”

What is ” Central Act”?

The term ‘Central Act’ has been defined under clause (7) of section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 which reads as under:-

“(7) ‘Central Act’ shall mean an Act of Parliament, and shall include—
(a) an Act of the Dominion Legislature or of the Indian Legislature passed before the commencement of the Constitution, and

(b) an Act made before such commencement by the Governor-General in Council or the Governor-General, acting in a legislative capacity.”.

Clause (7) of section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 becomes relevant in terms of article 367 of the  Indian Constitution, which reads as:-

“367. Interpretation.—(1) Unless the context otherwise requires, the General Clauses Act, 1897, shall, subject to any adaptation and modifications that may be made therein under article 372, apply for the interpretation of this Constitution as it applies for the interpretation of an Act of Legislature of the Dominion of India.

(2) Any reference in this Constitution to Acts or laws of, or made by, Parliament, or to Acts or laws of, or made by, the Legislature of a State, shall be construed as including a reference to an Ordinance made by the President or, to an Ordinance made by a Governor, as the case may be.
(3)For the purposes of this Constitution ‘foreign State’ means any State other than India:
Provided that subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, the President may by order declare any State not to be a foreign State for such purposes as may be specified in the order.”.

It is to be noticed that the definition is that of Central Act’ and not that of ‘Act of Parliament’, while the expression ‘Central Act’ must include Acts of the legislative authorities mentioned in the definition, the expression ‘Act of Parliament’ does not include those Acts. An ‘Act of Parliament’ must necessarily mean, as the words signify, an Act passed by the Indian Parliament.

CENTRAL ACTS TOTAL CENTRAL ACTS ENACTED (No’s.) TOTAL  CENTRAL
ACTS [ACTIVE]
CENTRAL ACTS
REPEALED
(No’s.)
Enacted before
The commencement
Of the constitution
(from the year
1834 to the year
1910 380 [Active] 1530
Enacted after
The commencement
Of the constitution
I.e., 26th January, 1950 to 15 October, 2014)
3702 2401 [Active ] 1301
TOTAL  5612 2781 3831

Section 6 of the General Clauses Act is to be applied having regard to the definition of. “Central Act”, “enactment”, “regulation” and “rule” as defined in Section 3(7), 3(19), 3(50) and 3(51), respectively, of the said Act. Giving a meaning to a term different from the definition is not permissible. When reference is made to a term defined in the statute, the term has to be understood to bear the meaning defined in the statute.

In Kolhapur Canesugar Works Ltd. and Another Vs. Union of India and Others, , the apex court had held (page 819) :

“32. The decision of the Constitution Bench is directly on the question of applicability of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act in a case where a rule is deleted or omitted by a notification and the question was answered in the negative. The Constitution Bench said that ‘Section 6 only applies to repeals and not to omissions, and applies when the repeal is of a Central Act or regulation and not of a rule’, (page 656 of the Supreme Court Report).