A law which is passed by the legislature is termed as an Act. There is a procedure as to how an Act comes into force. A bill, which is known as the initial stage of an Act, can be introduced by the Government itself, or by a member of the Parliament. When the bill is passed by both the houses of the parliament, it is sent to the President for his assent. When the President gives his assent, the bill finally becomes an Act.
An Act is the codified law of the country on a particular subject-matter. It comprises of the definitions, its applicability, the provisions through which the Act shall be governed, fines and penalties and provisions of remedy. Therefore, it can be said that an Act is primary legislation. An act is specific, as it covers a specific situation. For example, the provisions related to negotiable instruments are provided under The Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. The rules and regulations framed should always be consistent with the Act.
An act is a public document and therefore, any citizen of the country can have access to it.
Example- The Indian Contract Act, 1872, The Companies Act, 2013, The Competition Act, 2002, The Industrial Employment (Standing orders) Act, 1946, etc.
When any Act is made and passed, it is not necessary that it is a complete code in itself. Hence, there is need for the enactment of rules for defining the procedures of performing and implementation of the Act. Hence, rules provide procedural laws.
Rules are necessary because it is very difficult for the legislation to include each and every detail in one Act. It will be a very lengthy and tedious task. Therefore, a separate set of rules are made, in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
Where an act is termed as primary legislation, rules are secondary in nature. Therefore, the rules cannot go beyond the parent Act/Legislation and in case of any conflict between the provisions of an Act and rules, the provisions of the Act shall prevail.
The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 confers powers on the appropriate Government the power to make rules to carry out the purposes of this Act. Hence, The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central Rules, 1946 were framed by the Central Government in accordance with the Act.
The Competition Act, 2002 confers powers on the Central Government to make rules to carry out the provisions of the Act. In exercise of these powers, the Central Government made The Competition Commission of India (Selection of Chairperson and Other Members of the Commission) Rules, 2003, The Competition Commission of India (Form and Time of Preparation of Annual Report) Rules, 2008, etc.
At common parlance, the terms rules and regulations are similar, however, regulations are more rigid in nature than rules. Regulations have a force of law as these are the orders passed by an executive authority on the conduct of any legislation. They are based upon the Act. Such regulations are passed for the application of the Act and therefore there can be more than one set of regulations. These are not passed before the houses of parliament but are required to be published in the Government Gazette to become legal. The Act is the parent law and the regulations passed is the supplement and are subordinate in nature. The laws are passed, however, the regulations are in charge to ensure and enforce the laws.
The main difference between rules and regulations is that regulations are legally binding, whereas rules are not. On the one hand, an Act is supreme, rules and regulations are its subsidiaries.
The Competition Act, 2002 confers powers on the Commission to make regulations to carry out the purposes of the Act. In exercise of these powers, the Competition Commission of India made The Competition Commission of India (Manner of recovery of monetary penalty) Regulations, 2011, The Competition Commission of India (Procedure in Regard to the Transaction of Business Relating to Combinations) Regulations, 2011.
This article is authored by Surabhi Chhabra, Fourth-Year, BBA. LL.B, student at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies.
Also Read- Difference Between Act and Rule
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