The blue pencil doctrine is a legal concept, where a court finds that which portions of a contract is void or unenforceable, and which portions of the contract are enforceable. The Blue Pencil Rule allows the legally-valid, enforceable provisions of the contract to stand despite the nullification of the legally-void, unenforceable provisions. However, the revised version must represent the original meaning; the rule may not be invoked, for example, to delete the word “not” and thereby change a negative to a positive.

 

In India, Doctrine of Blue pencil finds its validity in Section 24 of The Indian Contract Act, 1872 which says that –

“If any part of a single consideration for one or more objects, or any one or any part of any one of several considerations for a single object, is unlawful, the agreement is void. —If any part of a single consideration for one or more objects, or any one or any part of any one of several considerations for a single object, is unlawful, the agreement is void.”

 

Illustration:

A promises to superintend, on behalf of B, a legal manufacturer of indigo, and an illegal traffic in other articles. B promises to pay to A salary of 10,000 rupees a year. The agreement is void, the object of A’s promise, and the consideration for B’s promise, being in part unlawful.

 

Image Source: Levi Solicitors