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The General Clauses Act, 1897 was enacted on March 11, 1897 to combine and expand the General Clauses Act, 1868 and 1887. The general definitions provided under the Act shall be applicable to all Central Acts and Regulation where there is no definition in the Act that conflicts with the provisions of the Central Acts or regulations.

The Act defines ‘affidavit’ as an assertion and declaration by persons who are authorized by law to do so or proclaim other than for swearing. According to the Act a ‘document’ shall comprise of any written subject, expressed or depicted upon any material in the mode of letter, numbers or marks or other modes that is planned to be utilized to record that subject. An ‘immovable property’ means any land, profits that obtained from the land and the things that are appended to the earth or enduringly fastened to any object that are appended to the earth. A ‘movable property’ means the property of all kind but not including immovable property. The Act further defines a ‘person’ as a company or organization or group of individuals, whether such body is incorporated or not.

The Act explains the meaning of ‘regulation’ formulated by the President according to Article 240 and Article 243 of the Constitution and shall comprise of regulations made under the Government of India Act, 1870 or Government of India Act, 1915 or Government of India Act, 1935 by the Central Government. The ‘rule’ shall mean rule made in exercise of the authority of any legislation and the regulation issued as a rule framed under the legislation.

Where legislation is not specifically mentioned to come into force on a prescribed date, it shall be implemented on the day that it receives the assent of the Governor General before the commencement of the Indian Constitution and thereafter of the President. The regulation shall come into force instantly on the ending of the day prior to its commencement unless expressly provided. Where any Central legislation or any regulation enacted after the commencement of this Act repeals any Act made or yet to be made, unless another purpose exists, the repeal shall not:

  • Renew anything not enforced or prevailed during the period at which repeal is effected or;
  • Affect the prior management of any legislation that is repealed or anything performed or undergone or;
  • Affect any claim, privilege, responsibility or debt obtained, ensued or sustained under any legislation so repealed or;
  • Affect any punishment, forfeiture or penalty sustained with regard to any offence committed as opposed to any legislation or
  • Affect any inquiry, litigation or remedy with regard to such claim, privilege, debt or responsibility or any inquiry, litigation or remedy may be initiated, continued or insisted.

In any Central legislation or regulation framed subsequent to the enforcement of the legislation, it shall be essential to revive any legislation either entirely or partly repealed expressly to provide the purpose. Furthermore, if the present legislation or any Central enactment or regulation made subsequent to the enactment, repeals or restructure with or without amendments of the prior legislation, then the indication in any other legislation or any other mechanism to the provision that has been repealed shall be interpreted as indication to the provision that has been re-enacted. If any Central legislation or regulation made after the implementation of any legislation or procedure is ordered or permitted to be performed or taken in any Court or office on a particular day or within specified time, then if the Court or office is not opened on that day or last day of the specified period, the legislation or proceedings shall be deemed to be performed or taken in due time if it is performed or taken on the subsequent day afterward the Court reopens.

The General Clauses Act is very effective in the absence of clear definition in the specific enactments and where there is a conflict between the pre-constitutional laws and post-constitutional laws. The Act gives a clear suggestion for the conflicting provisions and differentiates the legislation according to the commencement and enforcement to avoid uncertainty.