(1) Unless the context otherwise requires, the General Clauses Act, 1897, shall, subject to any adaptations 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 the 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.

Debate Summary

Draft Article 303 (2 & 3), Draft Constitution of India 1948 

303. (2) Unless the context otherwise requires, the General Clauses Act, 1897 (X of 1897), shall apply for the interpretation of this Constitution. 

(3) Any reference in this Constitution to Acts or laws of, or made by, Parliament or Acts or laws of, or made by, the Legislature of a State for the time being specified in Part I of the First Schedule shall be construed as including a reference to an Ordinance made by the President or, as the case may be, to an Ordinance made by a Governor. 

 

Draft Article 303 (Article 367 of the Constitution of India, 1950) was discussed in the Constituent Assembly on 16 September, 17 September and 14 October 1949. The Draft Article stated that the General Clauses Act 1897 shall be used to interpret the Constitution. This Act contained principles of interpretation and legal definitions. The Draft Article also clarified that an ordinance, passed by the President or Governor, would come within the definition of ‘Act’ or ‘Law’. 

 

During the debate, the Drafting Committee Chairman moved an amendment to add the words ‘as it applies for the interpretation of an Act of the Legislature of the Dominion of India’. 

 

Two Members opposed the amendment. The first pointed out that after the Constitution comes into effect, the Dominion of India would cease to exist and all the laws will become Acts of the Union. The second believed that the amendment’s substance was already implied in the Draft Article. 

 

The Drafting Committee Chairman did not engage with these arguments and merely stated that the amendment was absolutely necessary. The Assembly accepted the amendment without further discussion. 

 

Draft Article 303, as a whole, was adopted by the Assembly on the same day.