Classification of Statute, A Detailed Study


What is a Statute?

A  Statute is a formal written enactment of Legislative authority that governs a country, state, city or county. In Simple words, it is the Law, ordinance or an act, enacted by a competent authority.


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Classification of Statute

Generally, Statute can be classified with reference to its duration, Method, Object, and extent of Application.

Classification with reference to duration

1.      Temporary Statute

A temporary statute is one which where its period of operation and validity has been fixed by the statute itself. Such an act continues in force unless repealed earlier, until the time so fixed. After the expiry of the act if the legislature wishes to continue it, a new enactment is required. The Finance Act is the temporary act and is required to be passed every year.


2.      Permanent or the perpetual statute

this type of statute is the one in which the statute remains effective until it is substituted or repealed by the further legislative act.


Classification with reference to method

1.      Mandatory, Imperative or Obligatory statute

A mandatory statute is one which compels performance of certain things, or compels that certain things must be done in a certain manner or form.


2.      Directory statue

A directory statute merely directs or permits a thing to be done without compelling its manner or performance.

In H.V. Kamath vs. Ahmad Ishaque: it was held that mandatory provision has to be strictly observed whereas substantial compliance of a directory provision is enough.


Classification with reference to object

1.      Codifying Statute

A codifying statute is one which codifies the law, or in other words which purports to state exhaustively the whole of law upon a specific subject. The code contains the pre- existing provisions in different statute on the subject as well as the common law on it. The foremost purpose of the codifying statute is to present an orderly and authoritative statement of the leading rules of the law on a given subject whether those rules are to be found in a statute or common law.

Example: The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is a codifying statue with respect to intestate succession among Hindus.

With reference to codifying statute, following things can be noted:

I.                     A Codifying Statute may be a Code only with respect to a particular branch of a subject. It may not cover other branches of the same subject.

II.                   In contrast to an ordinary enactment, a Code is self contained and complete.

In Gokul Mandar vs. Pudmanund Singh, it was held that the essence of a Codifying Statute is to be exhaustive on matters in respect of which it declares the law, and it is not the province of the judge to disregard or go outside the letter of enactment according to its true construction. A Code is self-contained and complete and that marks the distinction between a Code and an ordinary enactment.

III.                 When the Code covers a situation, it is not permissible to apply general principles.

in L. Janakirama Iyer vs. P.P.M. Nilkanto Iyer, it was observed that a question of res judicata in relation to a suit has to be decided solely on terms of Section 11 of Civil Procedure Code and not on general principles of res judicata.


Rule for the Construction of Codifying Statute

As per the Lord Herschel rule, while construing a Codifying Act, first the language used in the Act should be examined without any reference or influence of previous law. Only when this method fails, the alternatives should be used.


2.      Consolidating Statutes

Consolidating Statute is a Statute which presents whole body of statutory law on the subject in complete form repealing the former Statute. In other words, it is a Statute which consolidates various laws on a particular subject at one place. It collects all statutory enactments on a specific subject and gives them a shape of one Statute. The Companies Act is an example of a Consolidating Statute. With regards to a consolidate statutes, following things can be noted:

I.                    A Consolidating Statute is not intended to alter the law. Therefore, it is relevant to refer to the previous state of law or to judicial decisions interpreting the repealed acts, for the purposes of construction of corresponding provisions in Consolidating Act.

II.      A Consolidating Act maybe an Amending Act. This additional purpose is usually indicated in the preamble of long title by use of words “An Act to consolidate and amend”.



According to Watson, the very object of consolidation is to collect the statutory law on a particular subject and bring it down to date, in order that it may form a useful Code applicable to the circumstances existing at that time when Consolidating Act was passed.


Rule of Construction to the Consolidated Statute

It has been said that the Consolidating Act should be interpreted reasonably with reference to its context. The Court Nowadays say that a consolidated Act that should also follow the same canons of construction as are being followed in respect of other Statutes and that there are no separate rules of construction of a consolidating Statute.  However, in such cases where in spite of the best efforts of the court any ambiguity remains then reference can be made to the interpretation given in the past to the repealed enactments which have been consolidated to form the present Act.

Beswick vs Beswick, In this Case, Court Stated that very object of consolidation is to collect statutory law bearing upon a particular subject to bring it down to date, in order that it may form a useful code applicable to the circumstances existing at the time when the Consolidating Act is passed.

In General Electric Co. vs. General Electric Co. Ltd., in construing certain provisions of Trade Marks Act, 1938, all the previous act beginning from 1875 and common law existing were considered by the court.


3.      Declaratory statute

Declaratory Statute is a statute that takes away the doubts of an enacted law. Passing of a declaratory statute becomes desirable when certain expressions in common law or statutes are being misunderstood. This may happen, for instance where the courts have been interpreting a particular expression as connoting a specific meaning which the legislature feels is a wrong notion of the expression.

Following features better illustrate the declaratory statute:

I.                     The mere expression, “it is hereby declared”, does not necessarily make a law declarative.

II.                   Such a law does not create a substantive right. It merely declares the law as the case may be, and the law in force at the time of operation of the Act.

III.                 The effect of a declaratory  Statute is retrospective but cases pre-decided under the Act cannot be opened.

IV.                If a declaratory Statute has been passed during the pendency of the appeal, the appeal shall be decided on the basis of such declarative Statute.


4.      Explanatory Statute.

An explanatory statute is one which explains the previously enacted law. Such a statute generally passed with the intent to provide a better explanation of an existing law, or to remove the doubt of an expression used in a previous law.


Difference between declaratory and Explanatory statute

A declaratory statute is a statute which is passed, when the courts or any other authorities misunderstood the provisions of an existing law. Whereas, An explanatory statute is one which simply explains the previously enacted law.


5.      Remedial Statute

Remedial Statute is the law by which a new remedy is provided. The main purpose of passing such a law is to improve the enforcement of one’s right or to rectify the mistakes and defects of the previous law.

In the present scenario, remedial statute is also becoming popular with the name of ‘socioeconomic legislation’.

Examples of Remedial Statute:

I.                     Maternity benefit act, 1961,

II.                   Factories act, 1948,

III.                 Payment of bonus act, 1936 etc.


Remedial laws can be both extensional and obstructive. Acts will be extensional when narrow common law is expanded and obstructive when existing common law authority is curtailed.


Rule of Interpretation to Remedial Statute

The interpretation of remedial law is done from a liberal point of view.  Doubts are resolved in favor of the persons for whose benefit that law has been made.


6.      Enabling Statute

According to Craies, "many statutes have been passed to enable something to be done which was previously forbidden by law, with or without prescribing the way it is to be done". An enabling statute is one which enlarges the common law where it is narrow. It makes doing of something lawful which would not be otherwise lawful.


7.      Disabling statute

A disabling statute is a law that restricts, cutdown or abrogates a right conferred under ordinary law.


8.      Penal Statute

When the disobedience of law is not enforced by personal action but is punished by command of law, then such law is called as penal law. Punishment for disobeying law can be in the form of fine, forfeiture of property, imprisonment and death. Such Statute may be in the form of a comprehensive criminal code or large number of sections providing punishment for different wrongful acts.

Example: Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Indian Penal Code, 1860, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 etc.


9.      Taxing or Fiscal Statute

A taxing statute is one which imposes taxes on income or certain other kinds of transaction. It may be in the form of income tax, wealth tax, sales tax, gifts tax etc. It is a source of revenue generation for the state. The money so collected is utilized for welfare of the people. Tax can be levied only when a statute unequivocally so provides by using express language to that effect and any doubts is resolved in favour of the assessee.


10.  Amending Statute.

An amending statute is one, which makes some alteration in the originally passed statute in order to rectify it or to fulfil its purpose more effectively. Such an amending law cannot be called a repeal law. It is only the law to be amended.


11.  Repealing Statute

In‌ ‌general, the term repeal stands for to cancel, to revoke or abolish. Repeal of statutes means the abolition of the law, and once if any statute is abolished then it is considered void and possesses no effects.


Objects of the Repealing Act

I.                     Bring necessary changes in the existing law in order to cure the defects,

II.                   to remove the outdated or obsolete laws,

III.                 Bringing improvements in laws to meet socio-economic and cultural conditions.


kinds of repeal

There are two types of repeal:

I.                     Express repeal: When an earlier statute or some of its provisions are repealed through express words embedded under the newly enacted statute, stating that the provisions are now of no effect, is called the express repeal. To repeal existing legislation, language such as “shall cease to have effect” or “all provisions that are conflicting with this act are thus repealed” are commonly used in the later statute.

R. v. longmead: In the instant case, it was held that the legislature in order to pass a repeal or continue any statute, is not restricted to use precise forms of words.


II.                   Implied repeal: The term implied means implicit or hinted. So when a statute becomes obsolete and it is inferred that it is no longer of use, then it shall be repealed with the newly enacted statute.

In the case of implied repeal, the burden lies over the person who asserted the implication of repeal. However, if the newly enacted statute shows no clear intention, or is inconsistent with the provisions of the earlier act, then such an assertion or presumption is rebutted.

For the implied repeal of a statute following points are to be considered:

I.                     Whether the previously enacted laws are in direct contradiction to the later enacted laws.

II.                   The conflict between the laws is of such a nature that can’t be resolved and reconciliation between the laws is not possible.

III.                 Whether the newly enacted act is not consistent with the previously enacted act and one has to be obliterated.

IV.                When both the laws are of such a nature that occupy and deals with the same field.


Test of the Implied Repeal

There is the assertion against the repeal by implication. The reason for making such an assertion is that legislature while making or enacting the law has full knowledge about the current laws on the subject matters. If the legislature has no provision regarding the repeal of the statute then it is asserted that the legislature has no intention to repeal the existing statute.

Ratanlal Adukia v Union of India: In the instant case, the Supreme Court stated that the doctrine of implied repeal is loosely based on the statement that the legislature assumed the current state of the law did not intend to generate any vagueness by retaining the conflicting provisions. The court while implicating this doctrine examines the nature and scope of the two enactments by giving effect to the legislative intent.

Municipal council Palari v. T.J. Joseph: it was held that if an act or provision enacted is inconsistent from the act previously enacted and one of the acts must be obliterated, the presumption, in‌ ‌this‌ ‌case, rebutted and the implied repeal is inferred.


Repeal by Desuetude

There are certain acts which possess the nature of permanent statute but remains inoperative or ineffective for a long period of time as they are not applied or taken into consideration by the court for a long period of time. Due to this, the statute loses its recognition and its applicability. Such disobedience of act is known as Repeal by Desuetude.


Effects of Repeal

I.                     Effects under General clauses act:

II.                   Other effects:

·         The statute repealed is abolished and obliterated and becomes dead as if the enactment of the statute.

·         All the rights created and enshrined under the repealed act is removed.

·         The statute after getting repealed becomes ineffective.

·         Except for a saving clause, each and every part of the statute is considered unconstitutional.

·         In order to validate a transaction made under a repealed statute, the law can retrospectively amend the statute even after it is obliterated.


12.  Curative or Validating Statute

A curative law is one which is passed to cure a defect in the previous law or to validate the legal process, or to give legal recognition to the actions of public or private administrative authorities, in a situation that if it had not been done then such action would be void. Such law often refers to the expression “notwithstanding any adjudicating judgment, decree, or order of any court”.

For any Curative Legislation to be valid, the following requirements must be met:

I.                     since the primary purpose of a Curative Statute is to give legal validity to an action that has taken place in the past, such statutes must have a retrospective application.

II.                   Curative Legislation can only deal with those actions that have procedural irregularities and not substantive, as substantive laws contains rights, duties and obligations, which cannot altered with the retrospective application, it would attract the principle of Ex post facto laws, article 20(1).

III.                 Such validation is consistent with the rights guaranteed in part III of the constitution.

IV.                the legislative body enacting the curative legislation must have the authority to enact such legislation.



I.                     To remove the ill-effect, or illegality of actions, or procedures that have been legally valid.

II.                   To legitimize such acts, which are declared illegal by a court of law.


In Amarendra Kumar Mohapatra and others v. State of Orissa and others: The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India held that while adjudication of rights is essentially a judicial function, the power to validate an invalid law or to legalize an illegal action is within the exclusive province of legislature. Exercise of that power by the legislature is not therefore an encroachment on judicial power of the court. Provided that it should not passed with the intent to altered the essence of judgement passed by the court.


Classification with reference to the extent of application

1.      Public Statute

Public Statute is a law that deals with matters of public policy, the nature of such law may be general, local or personal.

Example: CRPC, IPC, CPC etc.


2.      Private Statute

Private Statute is a law that deals with individual matters or a class of matters that have no relation to public affairs.

Example: Contract act, Hindu marriage act etc.


Post written by: Siddharth Sharma.


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