Doctrine of merger – iPleaders

By admin Nov28,2023

This article is written by Monesh Mehndiratta and Bhuvan Malhotra. The article has been edited by Khushi Sharma (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders) and Vanshika Kapoor (Senior Managing Editor, Blog iPleaders.). The article explains the concept of the doctrine of merger. It provides the circumstances under which the doctrine is applicable and those under which it is not applicable. It also provides its objectives, applicability, and use in different areas of law, along with case laws related to it.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

The phrase Merger Doctrine or Doctrine of Merger is neither a doctrine of constitutional law nor a doctrine that is statutorily recognized. It is also not a doctrine of universal or unlimited application. The said doctrine may refer to one of the several doctrines for e.g. Merger Doctrine (civil procedure code), Merger Doctrine (family law), Merger Doctrine (Intellectual property rights), Merger Doctrine (Property law), etc. In family law, the doctrine means that after marriage, a woman’s legal identity is merged with that of the husband. So, a woman could not testify against her husband any more than he could testify against himself, as her identity had merged with his and two were now considered as one legal identity. Similarly, in Intellectual Property Rights, the merger doctrine is used to evaluate the ‘originality’ of any work that seeks copyright protection in India. The reason why the doctrine is called as such is that India follows the mid approach to the doctrine of ‘Sweat of the Brow’ (as followed in the UK) and ‘Modicum of Creativity (as followed in the USA). Thus, the Indian approach to evaluate ‘originality’ is by ‘merging’ the two doctrines of these countries, hence the name Merger Doctrine. 

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This paper envisages limiting the discussion of the Merger Doctrine to the civil proceedings only. The paper intends to explain the meaning of the said doctrine in civil proceedings. Further, by way of various observations of the High Courts and Supreme Court, the paper tries to highlight the conditions for the applicability and inapplicability of the said doctrines in various cases. Lastly, the paper also discusses how the Indian Courts have engaged with the doctrine of merger and special leave petitions. 

The doctrine of Merger or the Merger doctrine in civil proceedings is a common law doctrine that stems from the idea of maintenance of the decorum of the hierarchy of courts and tribunals. The court in the case of Gojer Bros. (P) Ltd. v. Ratan Lal Singh, correctly summed up the meaning of the doctrine as “the doctrine is based on the simple reasoning that there cannot be, at the same time, more than one operative order governing the same subject matter”. To put it simply, if there are two orders passed on the same subject matter, that is, one passed by a subordinate court like a tribunal and another passed by a superior court like the High Court, the operative part of the order by the subordinate court (tribunal in this instance) may be merged with the order of the High court. 

Another instance where the Supreme Court summed up the meaning of the Doctrine of Merger was in the case of Kunhayammed v. the State of Kerala, wherein the court in paragraph 44 of the judgment held that- 

“Where an appeal or revision is provided against an order passed by a court, tribunal or any other authority before the superior forum and such superior forum modifies, reverses or affirms the decision put in issue before it, the decision by the subordinate forum merges in the decision by the superior forum and it is the latter which subsists, remains operative and is capable of enforcement in the eye of the law.”

Not only does the above observation of the Supreme Court aptly summarizes the meaning of the doctrine but also lays down the conditions of where the doctrine of merger may be applied. For the doctrine of merger to be applicable, there must first be, a decision of a subordinate forum or court in existence; second, in such a decision, there must be a right of appeal or revision in existence which must be duly exercised. Subsequently, such appeal or revision that is brought in front of any superior court or forum, the decision of the subordinate court/forum must be affirmed/modified/reversed by the superior court. The result of such affirmation/modification/reversal of the decision of the subordinate court would mean that the previous order of the subordinate court would now merge with the decision of the superior forum and such merger of the decisions or orders would become the operative part which would be capable of being enforced.

As said earlier, the doctrine of merger is used differently in different areas of law. In order to understand its concept, one must know how it is used in different areas of law. 

  • In the case of family law, the doctrine implies a theory and idea in  our society that, after marriage, the identity of a woman is merged with that of her husband, and the two are considered a family. 
  • In the case of intellectual property rights, this doctrine is used when the originality of a work seeking protection under copyright is to be evaluated. 
  • Further, in the law of contract, it means that the terms and conditions of a previous agreement or contract may be merged with the latter or final agreement if they are similar. 
  • In criminal cases, the offences having lesser punishment or harm will be absorbed into offences causing great damage and harm to the victim and having stricter punishment. 
  • The doctrine is used in property law to combine the terms of contract of sale in the final deed. 
  • In the law of trust, the doctrine is applied when a trustee or a beneficiary holds both kinds of titles, i.e., legal and equitable. This results in both titles being merged into one simple interest. 
  • In case of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the doctrine implies that when the superior court exercises its power in an appeal or revision filed by either party as a result of the decision or order passed by subordinate court, due to which the superior court reverses, modifies, or reaffirms the decision of subordinate court, the two orders are merged together and become operative, capable of being enforced. 

The doctrine of merger is based on the concept of respecting and maintaining the hierarchy of courts and the correctness of the judicial system. It provides that only one order can be maintained at a time with respect to a particular subject matter. Thus, the objectives of this doctrine are as follows:

  • It maintains and respects the hierarchy of courts by providing that the order passed by superior court will have to be enforced, provided that the order or decision of the subordinate court will be merged with the order of superior court. 
  • It prevents the chaos and confusion regarding the enforceability of an order or decision that might occur if there are multiple orders or decisions in one suit with respect to a particular subject matter. 
  • It reduces the chances of mistakes as the order of the subordinate court is merged with that of superior court, which is usually done after careful scrutiny. 
  • It further prevents multiplicity of suits, which is possible due to multiple orders and decisions with respect to a single issue. 
  • It also empowers the aggrieved parties to exercise their right to appeal or revision in a case. Thus, following the principles of natural justice. 

For the doctrine to be applicable, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • There must exist a decision or order passed by a lower court in a suit. 
  • There must be a right to appeal or revision in the suit in which the order has been passed. 
  • The right must be exercised by either party. 
  • The higher or superior court must either modify, reaffirm, or reverse the decision or order passed by the lower or subordinate court. 
  • The result of such modification is that the order of subordinate court, if similar to that passed by higher court, will be merged and become operative. 

In the case of Kunhayammed v. State of Kerala (2000), the Supreme Court observed that if an appeal or revision lies against the order passed by the subordinate court and the same has been exercised as a result of which the superior court modifies, reaffirms, or reverses the order of the subordinate court, both will be merged and the latter decision or order will be applicable and capable of being enforced.

Every coin has two sides, and similarly, there are instances where this doctrine is not applicable. These are,:

  • Cases where scope of appeal or revision is narrow as compared to that of original suit and proceedings. 
  • Cases where the court has limited power to hear the appeal. 
  • Cases where the order received in a suit has been secured by fraud or other illegal means. 

In the case of State of Madras v. Madurai Mills Co. Ltd. (1967), the Supreme Court held that the doctrine cannot be applied to every case, irrespective of the nature of its subject matter and the scope of appeal or revision. It was observed that while applying the doctrine, the nature of the appeal or revision and the power and jurisdiction of the court to pass an order in the appeal or revision must be taken into consideration. Similarly, in the case of A.V. Papayya Sastry v. Government of A.P. (2007), the Court held that an order obtained by fraud is an exception to the doctrine and is not valid. Hence, the doctrine will be inapplicable in this case. 

As stated above in the case of Kunhayammed v. the State of Kerala, the doctrine of merger can only be applied to situations where there is a right to appeal/revision or review and such right must have been duly exercised, it becomes important to list how such appeals, revisions, and reviews are different from each other and how each of them can be duly exercised or preferred using Civil Procedure Code, 1908. 

Appeal

The expression ‘appeal’ is not defined under the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The court in the case of Nagendra Nath Dey v. Suresh Chandra Rey defined appeal as “any application by a party to an appellate court, asking to set aside or reverse a decision of a subordinate court, is an appeal within the ordinary meaning of the term”. There is a fundamental distinction between the right to file a suit and the right to file an appeal as the appeal is a creature of statute and the right to appeal is neither an inherent nor natural right, whereas, right to file a suit is an inherent right. There are two types of appeals that can be exercised by parties, that is, against a decree and against an order. The appeals against a decree can be preferred or exercised by any aggrieved party under Section 96 of the code. The test of such aggrieved person or party was defined in the case of AP Gandhi v HM Seervai, wherein the court held that “an aggrieved person is one who has a genuine grievance because an order has been made which prejudicially affects his interests pecuniary or otherwise. Generally speaking nothing can be said to adversely affect the right of a person unless the decree operates as a res-judicata against him.” The two instances of situations where such appeal cannot be exercised by an aggrieved party can be found under Section 96(3) and Section 96(4) of the Code which states that there cannot be any appeal against consent decree (by virtue of Section 96(3)) and there cannot be any appeal against petty cases where the subject matter is less than ten thousand except on questions of law (by virtue of Section 96(4)). It is important to note that the appeal under Section 96 of the code is against a decree and not the judgment or the “finding of the judge”. Whereas, orders on the other hand is defined under Section 2(14) under the Civil Procedure Code which means a formal expression of court, which is not a decree. The rules for appeals against orders can be located in Section 104 – 108 and Order XLIII of the code and such appealable orders are listed in Section 104 and Order XLIII R1 of the Code.

Review

Review is a judicial re-examination of the case by the same Court and the Judge which can be exercised through Section 114 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. A review may be preferred or exercised by an “aggrieved person” and such expression has a similar meaning to “aggrieved person” under appeal as mentioned above by the case of AP Gandhi v HM Seervai. The Court cannot review its order suo-motu, so the same has to be necessarily exercised or preferred by the aggrieved party. An application for a review of judgment may be made by virtue of Order 47 R1 on any of the following grounds; first, the discovery of a new and important matter of evidence; second, a Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record; third, any other sufficient reason. The term ‘any other sufficient reason’ has not been defined in the Code but means “a reason analogous to those specified in the rule” by virtue of the case of Anirban Tuleshwar Sharma v. Anirban Pishak Sharma. Further, an review can lie when there is no appeal against a decree or an order by virtue of Section 114(a) of the code, and Order XLVII provides the procedure to prefer such appeals by the aggrieved party. Finally, a review lies when an appeal is possible but not preferred by virtue of section 114(b) of the codes, and such mere right to an appeal is no bar against a review. The constitution of India provides the power to review the Supreme Court’s own decision by virtue of Article 137. One important thing to note however that is, an application of review should be in form of a Memorandum of Appeal.

Revision

Revisional jurisdiction is a discretionary remedy that should be exercised only in the interests of justice. The dictionary meaning of revision is the action of careful revisiting and critical examination with a view of correcting or improving, therefore Section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code allows the High Court to call for the records of a case decided by a Court subordinate to the High Court under three circumstances i.e. first, that the lower Court has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in law; second, failed to exercise a jurisdiction vested in law; and third, acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity. Such revisional jurisdiction may be applied by the High Court suo-motu in addition to the application by ‘aggrieved person’ and such expression (‘aggrieved person’) is similar to the “aggrieved person” abovementioned (under appeal) in the case of AP Gandhi v HM Seervai. The report of the Civil Justice Committee in the Law Commission mentions that revisional jurisdiction is to be exercised in the following circumstances i.e. (i) Rule nisi should not be issued except on very careful and strict scrutiny; (ii) Where no stay is granted, the record of the subordinate Court should not be called for; and even where the record is necessary, only copies should be required to be produced; (iii) Whenever stay is granted, every effort should be made to dispose of revision with two to three months. It is important to note that revisional jurisdiction may be applied against both error of fact and error of law, provided that ‘aggrieved party’ provide the final conclusion on the question of jurisdiction, but such revisional jurisdiction comes to play only when no appeal lies and such appeal includes both first and second appeal. Lastly, there is no recourse against an order for revision except maybe through an SLP which is why the article also mentions how the Indian Courts have dealt with such Special Leave Petitions with respect to the doctrine of merger.

The relevant judgment of the Supreme Court which touches upon the topic of doctrine of merger is that of Shankar Ramchandra Abhyankar v. Krishnaji Dattatreya Bapat , wherein the Supreme Court cited various previous judgments to come up with the necessary conditions for the doctrine to be applicable. Therefore, it is first necessary to cite the various observations of High Courts and Supreme Court upon this doctrine. 

One of the earliest decisions that touch upon the said doctrine is that of CIT v. Tejaji Farasram Kharawalla, wherein the Bombay High Court held that when an appeal is provided from a decision of the tribunal and the appeal court after hearing the matter passes an order, the order of the appeal court ceases to exist and it is merged with the order of the appeal court. The Bombay High Court also added that there might be instances wherein the appeal court merely confirms the order of the subordinate court or the trial court, even then, the order of the subordinate court would not remain enforceable. The reason that the doctrine stems from the idea of maintenance of the decorum of hierarchy of courts and tribunals, the order that will remain enforceable and operative, will be that of the superior court.

In the case of CIT v. Amritlal Bhogilal & Co, the Supreme Court in paragraph 10 of the judgment observed-

“There can be no doubt that, if an appeal is provided against an order passed by a tribunal, the decision of the appellate authority is the operative decision in law. If the appellate authority modifies or reverses the decision of the Tribunal, it is obvious that it is the appellate decision that is effective and can be enforced. In law, the position would be just the same even if the appellate decision merely confirms the decision of the Tribunal. As a result of the confirmation or affirmance of the decision of the tribunal by the appellate authority, the original decision merges in the appellate decision and it is the appellate decision alone that subsists and is operative and capable of enforcement.”

Thus, the Supreme Court merely reiterated the observation of Bombay High Court in the case of CIT v. Tejaji Farasram Kharawalla and stated that the hierarchy of courts and tribunals is to be maintained when the decision is reversed by the superior court and even when the superior court merely affirms the decision of the subordinate court. 

Based on these cases, the court in the case of Shankar Ramchandra Abhyankar v. Krishnaji Dattatreya Bapat, came up with three conditions that would serve as check-points to see when the doctrine of merger may be applicable. First, with regards to the jurisdiction, that is, the jurisdiction exercised by the party shall be revisional or appellate jurisdiction; second, such jurisdiction must have been exercised by the party after issuance of notices; third, such revisional or appellate jurisdiction exercised must have been followed by a full hearing in presence of the necessary parties concerned with the case.

Therefore, to sum up, the above arguments, if any judgment is passed by the Supreme Court, all the orders passed by the subordinate courts will be merged in the judgment delivered by the Supreme court and no party could approach any other court to review or recall such order as also held in the case of A.V. Papayya Sastry v. Govt. of A.P. further, there can be no distinction in the doctrine of merger applicable to an appellate court dismissing an appeal or the appellate reversing or modifying the judgment of the subordinate court as also held in the case of Gojer Bros. (P) Ltd. v. Ratan Lal Singh.

The doctrine of merger is not a doctrine of rigid or universal application as per the Supreme Court in the judgment of State of Madras v. Madurai Mills Co. Ltd. The court in paragraph 5 of the judgment of this case held that-

“it cannot be said that wherever there are two orders, one by the inferior tribunal and the other by a superior tribunal, passed in an appeal on revision, there is a fusion of merger of two orders irrespective of the subject matter of the appellate or revisional order and the scope of the appeal or revision contemplated by the particular statute. In our opinion, the application of the doctrine depends on the nature of the appellate or revisional order in each case and the scope of the statutory provisions conferring the appellate or revisional jurisdiction.”

Therefore, we can construe from the above judgment that the doctrine would not be applicable to all the situations where there are two orders, that is, one by a subordinate court and the other by an appellate court. 

The various circumstances under which the doctrine of merger would be inapplicable would include, first, instances where the scope of appeal is narrower than the scope of the original proceedings; second, instances where the power of the court itself, designated to hear such revision or appeal, is limited. Furthermore, the court in the case of A.V. Papayya Sastry v. Govt. of A.P, added another instance of a situation where the doctrine could be inapplicable. The court held that, where an order obtained by the successful party, was itself obtained by fraud, such order stood vitiated and not in consonance of the law. Subsequently, such illegal order was to be termed as “non-existent” and could not be merged. 

The Constitution of India confers enormous powers on the Supreme Court as it allows bypassing the fixed hierarchy of appeals by virtue of Article 136, but such power that broadens the scope for invocation of the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is subject to the satisfaction and upon the discretion of the Supreme Court. Only when the Court is satisfied and hears the matter, the doctrine of the merger comes into question. There existed a lot of uncertainty regarding the application of the Doctrine of Merger in which the Supreme Court, without going into the merits of the case, dismissed the petitions. The case of V.M. Salgaocar & Bros. (P) Ltd. v. CIT brings some clarity as to the court in this case held that once the SLP is dismissed, one cannot construe that the court has expressed any opinion on the order through which the SLP was brought forth. In simpler terms, dismissal of the SLP without going into the merits of the case does not mean that the Supreme Court has expressed any opinion on the order of the subordinate court, which means, that the order of the subordinate court through which the appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court was invoked, is to be construed as final and enforceable. 

The abovementioned decision of Kunhayammed v. State of Kerala also holds importance in this regard. The court reiterated the abovementioned observations of the cases CIT v. Amritlal Bhogilal & Co and State of Madras v. Madurai Mills Co. Ltd and further added that the dismissal of the SLP, it being by a speaking or non-speaking order, does not substitute the order under challenge. The refusal of the court to dismiss the SLP only means that the Supreme Court was not inclined to exercise its discretion, in order to allow the appeal being filed to hear the matter. 

Furthermore, the court added, if the order refusing the leave to appeal is a speaking order i.e. the order gives reason as to why the leave was not granted by the Supreme Court, such speaking orders will have two consequences. First, the statement of law in the order would be law as construed and contained under Article 141 of the Constitution. Second, whatever is left in the speaking order i.e. except for the statement of law would only be used to bind the parties and the subordinate court like tribunals by way of judicial discipline as the Supreme Court is the apex court of the country. The rest of the statements i.e. except the law in the order does not merge with the order of the subordinate court and also it is also not to be construed that the order rejecting the SLP to be heard, cannot be construed as res judicata in the subsequent proceedings between the parties. Only when the Special leave has been granted by the court and the matter has been heard, the doctrine of merger would be applicable in the same manner i.e. whether the order may be merely affirmation or modification of previous order or reversal, the subordinate court’s order would merge with the order of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court’s order would be operative and enforceable. 

Gojer Bros. Pvt. Ltd v. Ratan Lal Singh (1974)

Facts of the case

The facts of the case are such that the predecessors in title of the appellant filed a suit for eviction against the respondent due to non-payment of the rent. The learned Second Munsif passed a decision in favour of the appellants, holding that the respondent will not be granted any protection under the West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1950. The decree was also confirmed by the subordinate judge in the appeal aggrieved by which the respondent filed a second appeal against the decision of the first appellate court. The second appeal was also dismissed by the High Court of Calcutta, but the respondent was given time to vacate the property and hand over possession to the appellant. 

During the time given to the respondent, the Act was amended multiple times. The respondent also filed a revision application in the High Court, which was allowed, and the suit was dismissed accordingly after the court granted the respondent’s application. While granting the application, the Court observed that the doctrine of merger will not be applied if the appeal is dismissed by the appellate court, and so the decree passed by the trial court must be enforced. The Court also granted the appellants special leave to appeal. 

Issues involved in the case

Whether the decree passed by the trial court be merged with that passed by the High Court ?

Judgement of the court 

The Supreme Court observed that whenever an appeal is made, the appellate court can reverse, modify, or dismiss it. The doctrine of merger provides that when an appellate court passes an order, the order passed by the lower court is merged with that order. It was further observed that in the present case, the subject matter of the suit and that of the appeal were identical. The Supreme Court ordered that the two decrees, one passed by the trial court and the other by the high court, be merged together, and hence, the appeal was allowed. 

Kunhayammed and others v. State of Kerala and Another (2000) 

Facts of the case

In this case, a dispute was raised by a large family before the forest tribunal of Kozhikode, wherein the tribunal held that the land did not belong to the government, as a result of which an appeal was made to the High Court of Kerala by the State of Kerala, which was dismissed. After this, a special leave to appeal was filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, which was also dismissed. The State of Kerala then filed a review application in the High Court against its decision. The respondents, on the other hand, objected to the maintainability of the petition. 

Issues involved in the case

Whether the review petition is maintainable ?

Judgement of the court 

The Court observed that the doctrine of merger and the right to review are closely interlinked with each other, so if the special leave to appeal is granted, the order will be merged with the order passed by the previous court. The Court also observed the following:

  • Where an appeal or revision lies against the order or decision of court or tribunal and the superior court, while dealing with the appeal or revision, makes a decision or passes an order, the order passed by lower court will be merged with the order passed by superior court, and it is this order that will remain operative and be enforceable in the eyes of law. 
  • The special leave to appeal under Article 136 is divided into two stages. The first stage is the disposal of prayer or petition to file an appeal, while the second is when appeal is granted. 
  • With respect to doctrine of merger and special leave to appeal, the court observed that the applicability of the doctrine depends on the nature of jurisdiction of the superior court and the issue or subject matter of the suit. For the applicability of this doctrine, it is necessary that the superior court be capable of modifying, reversing, or reaffirming the order or decision at issue in an appeal. Under Article 136 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can modify or reverse a decision or order only while exercising its appellate jurisdiction and not while exercising discretionary jurisdiction, so the doctrine will be applicable only when it exercises appellate jurisdiction. 
  • If the special leave to appeal is refused, the doctrine cannot be applied. 
  • Once the special leave to appeal is granted and the Supreme Court passes an order exercising its appellate jurisdiction, the doctrine of merger becomes applicable. 

The Supreme Court held that in the present case, the order passed by the High Court was subjected to appeal to the Supreme Court, wherein the state of Kerala could not succeed, and the appeal was dismissed. Moreover, the special leave to appeal was dismissed because it was devoid of merit. The court was not satisfied with using its appellate jurisdiction, so the order of the High Court could not be merged with the order of the Supreme Court and thus can be reviewed. 

V. Senthur v. M. Vijayakumar (2021) 

Facts of the case

In this case, petitioners and respondents were selected through the process notified by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission and were appointed to the Public Works Department. After 4 years, a seniority list was generated, wherein one of the petitioners contended that he, being a more meritorious candidate, was given less preference than the others belonging to the same category. Aggrieved by the fixation on the seniority list, many writ petitions were filed by the petitioners before the Madras High Court. The Madras High Court asked the respondents to make the seniority list according to the rank assigned by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. This was again challenged in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, wherein the case was dismissed, but the petitioners filed petitions against non-compliance of the order of the High Court by the respondents. 

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Government Servant (Conditions of Service) Act, 2016, was enacted, and some of its provisions were challenged and declared ultra vires. The court further ordered that the seniority be fixed within 12 weeks. This order was challenged in the Supreme Court through special leave to appeal, which was dismissed. Review petitions were filed by people aggrieved by the dismissal of appeals in the High Court of Madras, along with contempt petitions. This review petition was dismissed and, hence, challenged by the selectees aggrieved by the non-reservation of the seniority list through special leave to appeal. 

Issues involved in the case

Whether the appeal be granted or not ?

Judgement of the court 

The Supreme Court, while explaining the doctrine of merger in a case of special leave to appeal, held that the doctrine is inapplicable if the special leave to appeal is dismissed, irrespective of the fact that the dismissal is a non-speaking order or an order having reasons. The court further held that the seniority list must be fixed on the merits of selection, and the one made on roster points would be invalid. Further, the court held that it cannot be said whether the order and judgement of the Madras High Court have been merged or not, but they will still be binding on all the courts and tribunals of the country.

The doctrine of merger is a concept of common law but cannot be called a doctrine of Constitutional law, nor can it be categorised as one that is recognised by any particular statute. It is rather founded on the principle of respecting and maintaining the hierarchy of courts and the judicial system. It originated from the need to fulfil the gaps and loopholes existing in the judicial system, wherein the confusion lies regarding the maintainability of orders passed by different courts with respect to a particular subject matter. The doctrine solves the issue of which order must be enforced and given importance if there are multiple orders passed by both subordinate and superior courts on a single issue. 

It clarifies and provides that in this situation, the order passed by the superior court or the successive order would prevail and that the order of the lower court would be merged with the order passed by the superior court. The order passed after merging the two orders will be final and applicable. Thus, it can be said the doctrine is a saviour clause, which helps to prevent chaos and confusion and fills the gaps and loopholes existing in the judicial system.

What is the objective of the doctrine of merger? 

The main objective of the doctrine is to maintain and respect the hierarchy of courts. This further means that the order passed by the superior court will be enforced and binding in a case, but the decision of the subordinate court will be merged with it. 

How is the doctrine used and applied in criminal law?

In criminal cases, the offences having lesser punishment or harm will be absorbed into offences causing great damage and harm to the victim and having stricter punishment. For example, A commits the offence of robbery and assaults the victim during the commission of the crime. In this case, the two offences will be merged, and it is likely that he will be charged with the offence of robbery, which has a higher punishment. 

Is the doctrine of merger recognised by any statute?

No, the doctrine is not recognised by any particular statute. It is a concept of common law based on the idea of maintaining the hierarchy of the courts.


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