This article is written by Shweta Singh. This article provides a detailed analysis of the Rajkumar Narsing Pratap Singh Deo vs. State of Orissa case, along with information relating to the facts of the case and in-depth arguments presented by the parties. In addition to this, it also entails the analysis of the precedents referred to and the decision made upon such analysis by the Supreme Court.


In the context of analysing the acts of the monarch in India, the Supreme Court always gets confronted with a complex question pertaining to whether the act in issue is a legislative action or an executive one. For the purpose of ascertaining such an issue, it becomes relevant to distinguish between legislative and executive actions. Precedents in this field of law are concerned with the role and classification of the orders and grants issued by the provincial rulers in pre-Constitution India and consider the legal position that these orders and grants take in the current legal framework governing the Indian polity. This demarcation is important because Article 372 of the Constitution of India provides that the law in existence before the coming into force of the Constitution of India will continue to be in force unless it has been so amended or repealed by a competent authority. The Supreme Court, in the case of Rajkumar Narsingh Pratap Singh Deo vs. State of Orissa and Anr. (1964) (hereinafter referred to as ‘this case’ or ‘present case’), dealt with a similar issue and emphasised the importance of distinguishing between the executive and legislative actions of a monarch in order to decide the precise effect of the grants and orders issued by him. This case analysis provides insight into the relevant facts, arguments, and judgement rendered by the Supreme Court, along with the reasoning behind such a decision.

Details of the case

  • Name of the case: Rajkumar Narsing Pratap Singh Deo vs. State of Orissa, 1964
  • Name of the court: The Honourable Supreme Court of India
  • Date of the judgement: 9 March 1964
  • Parties to the case
  • Appellant: Rajkumar Narsing Pratap Singh Deo
  • Respondent: State of Orissa
  • Equivalent citations: 1964 AIR 1793, 1964 SCR (7) 112.
  • Type of the case: Civil Appeal No. 133 of 1963.
  • Bench: Honourable Chief Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar, K.N. Wanchoo, J.C. Shah, N. Rajagopala Ayyangar, and S.M. Sikri.

Facts of the case 

The ruler of the Dhenkanal state awarded a Sanad to his younger brother, Rajkumar Narsingh Pratap Singh Deo (hereinafter referred to as ‘the appellant’), allocating some lands and a maintenance allowance as per the customary laws of the Dhenkanal State. The state of Dhenkanal was an independent state before 1947. However, it merged with the Province of Orissa following the merger agreement between the ruler of Dhenkanal and the Dominion of India on the 15th of December 1947. The agreement was effective from the 1st of January 1948. This led to the taking over of the entire administration of Dhenkanal State by the State of Orissa (hereinafter referred to as ‘the respondent’), which, in consequence, discontinued the cash allowance. This handover of power was done in the exercise of its powers granted by the central government under Section 3(2) of the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Act of 1947.

Download Now

Following the Sanad under appeal, which was granted to the appellant, he was given Rs. 5001 monthly from the Dhenkanal District Treasury. This payment was received through a permanent pay order sanctioned by the ruler of Dhenkanal, which was given according to the Sanad. However, after the merger, the respondent ceased making this payment on the 1st of May 1949. Despite several attempts by the appellant to appeal to various authorities of the respondent to reconsider this decision, all his attempts were in vain. Hence, the appellant filed the present suit on the 26th day of September 1951 in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Dhenkanal. In the suit, he challenged the validity of the order of discontinuation by asserting that his pension had been cancelled illegally and sought an appropriate order under the law. The suit was dismissed by the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Dhenkanal. Therefore, the appellant filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Issues raised 

The leading question of law that arose in this appeal was: 

  • Whether the Sanad granted to the appellant by his elder brother, the ruler of Dhenkanal State, was part of the ‘existing law’ under Article 372 of the constitution and clause 4(b) of Order No. 31 of 1948 issued by the respondent.

Arguments of the parties


Several contentions were raised by the appellant in support of their claim that the discontinuation of the cash allowance by the state of Orissa was unlawful and unconstitutional. The appellant asserted that according to the custom in the appellant’s family, every junior member of the family had the privilege of being provided with reasonable maintenance, depending on the state of the family. This custom was recognised and enforced as customary law in the Dhenkanal State. Cash allowances and properties, such as land, were the components of maintenance grants provided to the members of the Royal Family. These allowances, known as Kharposh allowances, were recovered from and disbursed out of the revenue of Dhenkanal State. It was in accordance with the customary law that the Ruler of Dhenkanal provided the appellant with the Sanad in question. The Sanad was provided to the appellant with some land and a monthly cash benefit of Rs. 5001 per month for his entire life. The discontinuation of the cash allowance of Rs. 5001, as received by the appellant by the respondent, was challenged as unlawful and unconstitutional. The appellant argued that the grant constituted a law under Article 372 of the Constitution of India, and therefore, the respondent should have continued it. He also alleged that after the merging of Dhenkanal with Orissa, he was entitled to receive the grant, which was accepted and enforced by the respondent. Thus, for these arguments, the appellant prayed for an injunction to compel the respondent to continue paying the appellant’s cash allowance.

Mr. Setalvad, who represented the appellant in the present case, supported the assertion that the Sanad, which was the basis of their claim, was ‘law’. Mr. Setalvad argued that at the time when the Sanad was granted, the ruler of the Dhenkanal state was an absolute monarch vested with absolute sovereign power. This sovereignty allowed the Ruler to have legislative, judicial, and executive power. Hence, any order the Ruler gave was equivalent to ‘law’. Mr. Setalvad emphasised that in the context of an absolute monarch, whose decrees are inherently lawful, there was no significance in distinguishing between orders that are legislative from those that are executive or administrative. Any order that such a ruler issues should be considered to have the force of law, and the Sanad in question falls into that category.

It was further argued by Mr. Setalvad that the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act of 1947’) conferred on the central government broad powers to extend its jurisdiction to areas beyond its provinces as it deemed necessary. Such authority was granted under Section 3(1) of the Act of 1947. On the other hand, Section 3(2) even allowed the central government to transfer this jurisdiction to any officer or authority as that government deemed fit, either fully or partially, and in any manner without limitation. Mr. Setalvad argued that it was in the exercise of this power as granted under Section 3(2) of the Act of 1947 that the central government had delegated its powers to the province of Orissa with respect to states that had merged with it. This delegated power was used to issue Order 31 of 1948 by the state of Orissa. Laws that were applicable to the merging areas were provided under clause 4 of this Order, specifically clause 4(a), which referred to the list of enactments applicable to the merged areas. Clause 4(b), on the other hand, provides that for matters that did not fall within any of the specified enactments mentioned in the list, all laws that were in operation in any of the states that merged with Orissa, irrespective of whether they were substantive or procedural, customary or statutory laws, would still prevail. These laws would continue to be in force unless they ceased to have effect by virtue of an order under the Act of 1947.

On the basis of the afore-mentioned fact, the appellant concluded their argument by asserting that according to Clause 4(b) of this Order, the customary law that existed in the State of Dhenkanal before its merger continued to function as law within the territory of Dhenkanal because it has not been repealed or amended. Hence, since the Sanad was held as law by the appellant, it is unlawful for the respondent to cancel the cash allowance payment to the appellant through an executive decision. The only way by which the respondent could cancel such a cash allowance was by either passing a new law or issuing an order under Clause 4(b) of Order 31 of 1948.


The respondent dismissed the appellant’s contention on the grounds that the gift upon which the appellant relied was of a nature that could be terminated by the respondent. The respondent claimed that the grant that was given by the Ruler by an executive act in 1931 does not fall within the definition of law under Article 372 of the Constitution. Therefore, as the grant was an executive action by the Ruler, it could also be withdrawn by the respondent through another executive action, given that the respondent was the legal successor to the Ruler.

The respondent also argued that the appellant’s claim that the respondent acknowledged and agreed to honour the grant of a cash allowance was untenable. The respondent supported this argument by contending that the trial judge, to whom the appellant initially took his case, and the High Court of Orissa, where the appellant went with an appeal from the trial judge’s ruling, also dismissed the appellant’s submissions. Thereby dismissing the appellant’s argument. Later, the appellant applied for and was issued a certificate by the High Court that enabled him to bring his case before the Supreme Court in an appeal.

Laws discussed in Rajkumar Narsingh Pratap Singh Deo vs. State of Orissa and Anr. (1964)

Constitution of India

The Constitution of India is the Supreme Law of India that outlines the political and administrative system in the country. The Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, and came into force on January 26, 1950. It also lays down the basic structure that defines the basic political principles, organises the structure, processes, powers, and functions of governmental agencies, and defines the rights, directing principles, and duties of citizens. The following Article was discussed in the present case:

Article 372 of the Constitution of India

Article 372 of the Constitution of India deals with the continued application and modification of existing laws after the coming into force of the Constitution. Article 372 of the Constitution states that any existing laws in India that were in force at the time of the commencement of this Constitution shall remain in force until they are amended or repealed by some legislative body or other competent authority. This means that the previous laws shall remain in force until they are repealed or amended by the competent legislative body.

The rationale behind Article 372 is to provide a smooth transition from the pre-constitutional legal setup to the new legal framework established by the Constitution. It recognises the need for legal certainty and consistency while admitting the need for the legal system to undergo the necessary transformations to meet the principles and demands of the new constitutional order. This ensures that there are no legal gaps and that governance does not come to a standstill as the nation transitions from the pre-constitutional stage to the post-constitutional one. 

While Article 372 provides protection for existing laws to operate until they are repealed, it also provides for the amendment of such laws so that they conform to constitutional principles. These amendments include making changes, alterations, or even modifications to the laws in order to remove any contradiction or conflict with constitutional provisions.

According to the provisions of Article 372(2), the power to alter these existing laws is vested in the President of India. While exercising such power, the President can make necessary or expedient adaptations and modifications that he deems necessary so that any existing law is in accordance with the Constitution of India. All the adaptations suggested by the President pursuant to his power under this Article are effected through orders or notifications made under his authority, and such orders have a binding legal authority akin to the enactments passed by Parliament.

As per the provisions of Article 372(3)(a), the President cannot exercise his power to amend, adapt, change, or suspend an existing law after the culmination of three years from the commencement of the Constitution. Moreover, as per Article 372(3)(b), the President shall not prevent any competent legislature or authority from altering in any way any law adapted or altered by the President as empowered under this Article.

Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947

The Foreign Jurisdiction Act was passed on 24th December 1947. This Act empowered the Central Government to acquire territories outside India by treaties, agreements, sufferance, and in any other legal way. It enables the Central Government to exercise foreign jurisdiction in any manner it considers fit. The following sections were discussed in the present case:

Section 3 of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947

Section 3(1) of the Act of 1947 confers on the central government broad powers to extend its jurisdiction to areas beyond its provinces as it deems necessary. On the other hand, Section 3(2) even allowed the central government to transfer this jurisdiction to any officer or authority, as that government deemed fit, either fully or partially and in any manner without limitation.

Section 4 of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947

As provided by Section 4(1) of the said Act, the necessary orders can be passed by the central government through issuing notifications in the official gazette for the proper exercise of said extraterritorial jurisdiction as the Central Government deems necessary. This implies that the central government has the authority to make decisions and take actions that are best suited for administrative purposes that lead to legal consequences in foreign territories. Section 4(2) further outlines the specific types of orders that the Central Government can issue, categorised under clauses (a) to (d). These categories encompass a wide range of powers, ensuring the government can address various situations and needs that arise in areas where this Act of 1947 is applicable.

Precedents referred to by the court

The Supreme Court had referred to several precedents to assist itself in deciding on the issue. The precedents referred to by the court are as follows:

Ameer-un Nissa Begum vs. Mahboob Begum (1955)

In this case (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Ameer-un Nissa Begum case‘), the Supreme Court was called upon to assess the validity of the Firman made by the Nizam of Hyderabad on February 19, 1939. This Firman created the Special Commission to investigate and prepare a report regarding a case of succession to a deceased Nawab that had been transferred from the Darul Quaza Court. The question in issue in this case was whether the Firman was an enactment of the legislative power or the judicial power of the Nizam. Chief Justice Mukherjea, on behalf of the Court, stated that Nizam was the supreme authority in the legislative, judicial, and executive fields as he had unlimited powers in all these areas, and there was no check on his power. He further stated that Farman was the sovereign will of Nawab and had the same legal effect as any other law in the state. Thus, as long as a specific Firman remained valid, it regulated the rights of the parties concerned but could be recalled or amended with an additional Firman for any reason chosen by the Nizam. 

The Supreme Court in the present case, by analysing this case in reference to the issue at hand, observed that the learned counsel in that case did not argue the point, and the question of whether it was possible or useful to distinguish between legislative and executive Firmans was neither debated before the Court nor examined and decided as a general legal principle. Therefore, the court opined that the facts of the aforementioned case were distinguished from this case.

Director of Endowments, Government of Hyderabad vs. Akram Ali (1955)

In this case, the Supreme Court was tasked with considering a Firman issued by the Nizam on December 30, 1920. This Firman instructed the Department to oversee the administration of the Dargah until the Civil Court could investigate the case and determine the rights of the parties. At the time when the Firman was issued, the Nizam was referred to as the absolute sovereign on all civil matters, and his word was considered a legislative authority. Therefore, the Firman was considered valid, thereby depriving the respondent and any other claimant of all the rights of possession while the case investigation was pending. 

The court, through the analysis of this case, came to the same conclusion as the one concluded while analysing the Ameer-un Nissa Begum case. The Supreme Court, in the present case, observed that in the aforementioned case, the point was not argued about whether it was possible or useful to distinguish between legislative and executive Firmans. Therefore, the court pointed out that the observations made in this case were not meant to set any sort of precedent, or that the proposition that was put forward by Mr. Setalvad was misplaced.

Madhaorao Phalke vs. The State of Madhya Bharat (1960)

In this case (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Madhaorao Phalke case’), the Supreme Court of India had to decide whether the Kalambandis issued by the Ruler of Gwalior in the exercise of his sovereign powers were laws or mere executive action. This case entailed the assessment of these orders, unlike the above-mentioned cases, which broadly considered the nature of orders issued by absolute monarchs without detailed analysis. Upon analysis, the Court concluded that the Kalambandis possessed elaborate regulations and demonstrated characteristics akin to statutes or laws. Consequently, it could hardly be distinguished from legislative acts. Therefore, the Court found that the Kalambandis have to be considered as rules or regulations that have the force of the law. 

Promod Chandra Deb vs. The State of Orissa (1961)

The Court, in this case, was seized with the question of whether the grant in question was law. The Court pointed out that, when analysed together with Order 31 of the Rules, Regulations, and Privileges of Khanjadars and Khorposhdars, the grant did have the force of law. These rules, similar to the Kalambandis in the Madhaorao Phalke case, as observed by Chief Justice Sinha, were to be treated as existing law within the meaning of Article 372(2) of the Constitution of India. In essence, this decision affirmed existing specific rules or regulations before the commencement of the Constitution, remaining legally enforceable. However, the case did not formulate new principles; it only referred to general observations that are common in other cases.

Tilkayat Shri Govindlalji Maharaj vs. State of Rajasthan (1963)

In this case, the Court had to decide the precise issue of whether a Firman issued by the Udaipur Dhar Bar in the year 1934 was law. In reaching this conclusion, the Court carefully reviewed the provisions, ambit, and impact of the implementation of the Firman. After much deliberation, the Court proclaimed that the Firman was indeed law. The above conclusion was based not on general principles but on a detailed analysis of what the Firman contains.

Maharaja Shree Umaid Mills Ltd. vs. Union of India (1962)

In this case, a similar question arose before the Supreme Court to decide, as in the aforementioned cases, regarding an agreement made on April 17, 1941. The main argument was that this agreement should be considered law, and in support of this argument, several general observations drawn from previous cases were offered. Justice S. K. Das, speaking for the Court, considered these observations and the circumstances under which they were made. He rejected the arguments that such observations established that it was impossible to distinguish between the legislative and executive powers of an absolute monarch.

The court clarified that the said agreement was only a contract, which was nothing more than an executive act and not a law as per the provisions of Article 372 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it was concluded by the court that such agreements or orders could be distinguished based on their legislative or executive nature. This decision further affirmed the notion that not all the actions of an absolute monarch are legally binding.

Judgement in Rajkumar Narsingh Pratap Singh Deo vs. State of Orissa and Anr. (1964)

The court, in this regard, ruled that the appellant’s contention as to the respondent’s act of discontinuing the cash allowance was not legitimate. The court also held that while the payment was being made even after the merger, it did not mean that the respondent was not authorised to discontinue the payment later on. The court stated that the respondent required some time to review many similar cases before coming up with a definite decision on the matter. Therefore, the court affirmed the High Court’s decision except on different grounds and dismissed an appeal.

Obiter dicta

For the purpose of deciding whether the grant was part of the existing law under Article 372 of the constitution and clause 4(b) of Order No. 31 of 1948 issued by the State of Orissa, it was pertinent to consider whether the power exercised in a given case by issuing an order by the ruler was judicial, legislative, or executive. The court, while deliberating on this issue, negated the contentions made by Mr. Setalvad that, with regard to the order made by the monarch, there could be no distinction between executive and legislative orders. The court recognised that in an absolute monarchy, all legislative, executive, and judicial power is vested in the monarch. All these powers emanate from the monarch, and any order given by him was binding within the sovereign territory of the country, regardless of whether it was legislative, executive, or judicial in nature. However, even though these powers were consolidated in one individual, the fundamental differences between them remained. 

For example, the division between the legislative and executive branches still persists from a jurisprudential standpoint, although in practice, it may be unfruitful to question the nature of such orders. This means that the existence of absolute monarchs did not undermine the existence of the fundamental rules of jurisprudence that draw a distinction between these three kinds of powers. A comprehensive analysis of an order passed by a monarch would disclose to the jurist whether the power exercised was judicial, legislative, or executive. The conclusion drawn based on the jurisprudential analysis regarding the nature of the order as well as the power that lies at its foundation would still remain valid. The court, therefore, observed that it was illogical to claim that, in relation to the presence of an absolute monarch, the legal differentiation of all the aforementioned three types of powers was unimportant.

The court further observed that in order to decide upon the issue, it was important to consider whether it was possible by analysing the nature of the given order, its provisions, and the circumstances surrounding the order to decide whether it was a legislative or executive order. It was observed by the court that while it might be tough for theorists to demarcate a precise distinction between law and other forms of executive orders, the attributes of law are clear. In general, a law can be defined as a set of rules that define legal rights and obligations that are recognised by courts. This makes a law different from a grant, where there is an agreement between the grantor and the grantee, in contrast to a law that is a command that the citizens have to obey no matter the circumstances.

Consequently, in an absolute monarch’s reign, law has been defined as commands that ought to be followed by the subjects. Hence, the court concluded that it could not accept the assertion made by Mr. Setalvad that it was irrelevant to consider whether a grant by an absolute monarch was an executive or legislative act. If the view of Mr. Setalvad were accepted, then any order that an absolute monarch would pass would be considered law, even if the matter were purely personal and did not affect the public in any way. Therefore, it is not right to negate the difference between judicial, executive, or legislative order or matters relating to private concerns while considering action or order from an absolute ruler.

The Supreme Court analysed various judgements referred to by the appellants to assess the validity of the appellant’s arguments. The court concluded that a detailed scrutiny of the decisions referred to by Mr. Setalvad goes against the contention of the applicant that this Court has developed a broad principle of law that disregards the distinction between the legislation and administration in the orders passed by absolute kings, or the Raja of Dhenkanal, as in the present case. The right legal position is that if there is a dispute as to whether an order from an absolute monarch is a legislative act and remains in effect under Clause 4(b) of the Order, all factors must be taken into consideration before making a determination. These factors include the nature of the order, the scope and impact of its provisions, its context and general setting, and the method used by the Ruler to issue legislative versus executive orders. All of these and other related features must be looked at in order to then lawfully assess the nature of the order. Therefore, it would be wrong and unjust to accept Mr. Setalvad’s proposition that the Sanad issued by the Raja of Dhenkanal is ‘law’ without looking at its characteristics and other surrounding factors. The court, therefore, proceeded to analyse Sanad in light of the aforementioned factors.

Ratio decidendi

The court, in its analysis of the Sanad, found that it consists of three clauses. The first clause described the customary practice that prevailed in the State of Dhenkanal, wherein the Rajas used to grant hereditary rights to their relatives. It also stated the necessity to ensure that the grantee received adequate provisions to maintain a dignified lifestyle appropriate to his status as a Rajkumar of the State. This included providing enough resources for him to support not only himself but also his family, heirs, and descendants, allowing them to live in a manner befitting their noble status and heritage. Therefore, as a sign of love and affection, the grantor made the khanja grant, which entailed the appellant receiving Rs. 5001 as a cash allowance to be paid from time to time in the appellant’s lifetime, and further assigned to him all the land of 6942-71-5 acres described in the Schedule to the Sanad. The land in this grant could be passed from one generation to another, thus enabling the grantee and his heirs to benefit from it for generations.

Clause 2 of the Sanad puts the condition on the grantee and his heirs to remain loyal. Clause 3 of the Sanad stipulated that the State was responsible for any costs involved in preparing the granted land for cultivation. After analysing the three clauses of the Sanad, the court concluded that there was no legislative component in these provisions. The Sanad does not contain any orders that the citizens of the State are supposed to obey; it is merely a gift from the Ruler that accords with the family customs and the customary law of the State, which obliges him to provide for his junior brother. Thus, the court held that the grant was solely an executive act of the ruler in order to discharge a duty owed to his junior brother under personal and customary family law. It would be unreasonable to classify a grant of such a nature as law. Even if the grant was in part founded on personal and customary law, any action taken by the Ruler to discharge his responsibilities under these laws could not be construed as an order made by him in his legislative capacity. For these reasons, the court held that the Sanad in question was an executive act and, therefore, cannot be classified as law, as Mr. Setalvad pointed out in his assertion.

The Supreme Court then moved ahead to decide upon the second contention of the appellant that the obligation assumed by the Ruler was acknowledged by the respondent and, therefore, it could not be set off or cancelled by the respondent through executive action. The court outrightly negated this argument as irrational and held that if the original grant was made by the Ruler of the State of Dhenkanal in the exercise of the executive power, then it is within the authority of the respondent, as the Ruler’s successor, to alter or even revoke the said grant by another exercise of the executive power. The court accepted the argument that the customary law requiring maintenance from the Ruler towards his junior brother might have been continued under clause 4(b) of the 1948 order and Article 372 of the Indian Constitution. However, to continue, the customary law is quite different from stating that the specific amount of maintenance as claimed in the grant cannot be varied. The act of the respondent to withdraw the monetary benefit, especially the monthly cash allowance of Rs. 5001, does not abrogate the law itself. It is agreed that the said land grant is still in place with regard to the Sanad. Consequently, the action of the respondent merely decreases the total maintenance allowance, which was initially awarded to the appellant by the Ruler in 1931. The court further ruled that though the customary law requiring the provision of maintenance to the appellant was in force, the respondent had complete authority to vary and modify the maintenance amount, and such authority fell within the executive capacity of the respondent. Therefore, since Sanad is not a law, it would be unjustified to hold that the respondent could not vary or modify the amount provided under Sanad by an executive, and the only way of doing so is through the filing of the suit in court.  

Critical analysis of the case

The Supreme Court, in this case, by distinguishing between legislative and executive actions, reinforced the intention of preserving only those actions that can be classified as “law” under Article 372 of the Constitution of India. This saves against the tendency to continue all pre-constitutional acts that could generate legal confusion. The decision delivered by the Supreme Court upholds fundamental principles of jurisprudence. The decision emphasises that even if kings and emperors wield absolute authority, there remain differences between legislative and executive acts, as the former are aimed at broader public applicability while the latter may have a limited scope and a specific context. In addition to this, the decision of the Supreme Court in this case has also paved the way for the transition to take place from the pre-constitutional legal precedents to the newly constituted legal system without complete rejection or acceptance. It allows for the analysis of each act independently, making it possible to avoid the legalisation of any act that does not warrant further protection.


In legal disputes arising out of grants and orders made by an absolute monarch, the Supreme Court of India has time and again drawn a distinction between legislative and executive action. The resolution of such disputes involves examining the characteristics and context of such grants and orders, including whether they were legislative or executive. In this case, after analysing the context and characteristics of the grant made by the Ruler of Dhenkanal, the same has been held as an executive act rather than a legislative one. Therefore, the respondent, being the successor to the Ruler, had every right to either revoke or alter the grant by an executive order. This decision reaffirms several fundamental principles of constitutional law, one of which is that acts of an absolute monarch cannot be considered legally binding and can be repealed by the subsequent authority of an executive action.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where is the term ‘existing law’ defined under the Constitution of India?

The words ‘existing law’ is prescribed under Article 366(10) of the Constitution of India. Under this provision, “existing law” has been defined as any law in force in India immediately before the creation of the new Constitution. In particular, it includes any statute, regulation, order, regulation, or by-law made by any legislative body or person who had legal authority to do so at that time.

What was the observation of the court with regard to the case laws referred to by the appellant?

After the close examination of the cases referred to by the appellant, the Supreme Court observed that it did not support his argument that this Court had set forth a general principle with regard to the irrelevance or inapplicability of the well-recognized distinction between legislative and executive acts pertaining to orders passed by absolute monarchs, such as the Raja of Dhenkanal in this case.

What is the difference between legislative actions and executive actions?

The distinction between legislative and executive is that the legislative body is responsible for drafting laws, while the executive body is, on the other hand, supposed to execute these laws. In India, the law-making institution is the parliament, and on the other hand, the executive institution is the government. The powers of a legislative body include the passing of legislation and bills. On the other hand, an executive body is one that is assigned the task of enforcing laws and introducing bills to Parliament.

What are the contents of the Sanad that was in issue in the present case?

The Sanad consists of three clauses. The first clause described the customary practice that prevailed in the State of Dhenkanal, wherein the Rajas used to grant hereditary rights to their relatives. It also stated that there was a clear need to provide adequately for the grantee so that he might be enabled to live a dignified life as a Rajkumar of the State as well as support himself, his family, heirs, and descendants in a manner suitable to their status. Therefore, as a sign of love and affection, the grantor made the khanja grant, which entailed the appellant receiving Rs. 5001 as a cash allowance to be paid from time to time in the appellant’s lifetime, and further assigned to him all the land of 6942-71-5 acres described in the Schedule to the Sanad. The land in this grant could be passed from one generation to another, thus enabling the grantee and his heirs to benefit from it for generations. Clause 2 of the Sanad puts the condition on the grantee and his heirs to remain loyal. Clause 3 of the Sanad stipulated that the State was responsible for any costs involved in preparing the granted land for cultivation.

Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skills.

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals, and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here