SC disposes of a 1973 appeal during pendency of which the concerned law itself got repealed
Last week, the Supreme Court disposed of an appeal filed in the year 1973, challenging a show cause notice issued under the Gold (Control) Act, 1968.
The Delhi High court had dismissed the challenge against show cause notice in 1972. A Special Leave Petition was filed against the high court order in 1973, and the apex court stayed the proceedings on 9th August 1973.
While this appeal was pending, the Gold (Control) Act, 1968 was repealed by the Parliament in the year 1990, after it ‘realised’ that it was a regressive measure.
Last month, when this appeal came up for hearing before the bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha, Senior Advocate R Venkataramani, who appeared for the appellant, contended that since the Gold Control Act itself has been repealed without a saving clause, Section 6 of the General Clauses Act would not apply for the reason that the objects and reasons show that the Act was sought to be repealed without any saving clause.
On the other hand, Advocate Rupesh Kumar, counsel for revenue, contended that once there is a repeal simpliciter, without any savings clause, the whole object of such a repeal was so that the general rule under Section 6 would apply.
Section 6 of the General Clauses Act provides that unless a different intention appears, the repeal shall not:

  • Revive anything not in force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect; or
  • Affect the previous operation of any enactment so repealed or anything duly done or suffered thereunder; or
  • Affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any enactment so repealed; or
  • Affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against any enactment so repealed; or
  • Affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid, and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed as if the repealing Act or Regulation had not been passed.

Considering these submissions, the bench observed that, the repeal simpliciter, in the present case, does not attract the provisions of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act as a contrary intention is very clearly expressed in the statement of objects and reasons to the 1990 repeal Act. The bench referred to the judgment in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. vs. C. Padma, in which the court had considered a similar issue.
The bench observed: “The statement of objects and reasons makes it clear that over 22 years, the results achieved under the Act have not been encouraging and the desired objectives for which the Act has been introduced have failed. Following the advice of experts, who have examined issues related to the Act, the objects and reasons goes on further to state that this Act has proved to be a regressive measure which has caused considerable dissatisfaction in the minds of the public and hardship and harassment to artisans and small self-employed goldsmiths.”
Disposing of the appeal, the bench said: “This being the case, we are of the view that the show cause notice dated 01.06.1971, which is the subject matter of this appeal, no longer survives.”