Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant

The maxim is quite well-known. The rule flowing from the maxim ‘generalia specialibus non derogant’ has been i) considered in Hari Shankar Jain, (1978) 4 SCC 16 and ii) explained in Mary Seward v. Owner of “Vera Cruz”, (1884) 10 AC 59, 68.

“Where there are general words in a later legislation capable of reasonable and sensible application without extending them to subjects specially dealt with by earlier legislation, one is not to hold that, the earlier and special legislation is indirectly repealed/altered or derogated from merely by force of such general words, without any indication of a particular intention to do so.”

Anjum Abdul Razak Memon, 2013 (3) SCALE 1 had the occasion to consider the conflict.”

Hon’ble Justice M.R. Shah, The Pharmacy Council of India v. Dr. S.K. Toshniwal Educational Trusts, [Transfer Petition (Civil) Nos. 87-101 of 2014]

It is a settled legal proposition that while passing a special Act, the Legislature devotes its entire consideration to a peculiar subject. Therefore, when a general Act is subsequently passed, it is logical to presume that the Legislature has not repealed or modified the former special Act unless an inference may be drawn from the language of the special Act itself.

In order to determine whether a statute is special or general one, the Court has to take into consideration the principal subject-matter of the statute and the particular perspective for the reason that for certain purposes an Act may be general and for certain other purposes it may be special and such a distinction cannot be blurred.

Thus, where there is inconsistency between the provisions of two statutes and both can be regarded as special in nature, the conflict has to be resolved by reference to the purpose and policy underlying the two enactments and the clear intendment of the Legislature conveyed by the language of the relevant provisions therein.”