Interpretation of Statutes – Law School Notes

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Interpretation of Statutes

Literal rule: – The first and most elementary rule of construction is that it is to be assumed that the words and phrases of technical legislation are used in their technical meaning if they have acquired one, and otherwise in their ordinary meaning, and the second is that phrases and sentences are to be construed according to the rules of grammar.
• Forest Range Officer v. P. Mohammed
• Municipal corporation of Greater Bombay v. Indian Oil Corporation
• Kishan Lal v. State of Rajasthan

Mischief Rule
• DPP v. Bull
• Royal College of Nursing v. DHSS

Golden Rule
• R v. Allen
• Adler v. George
• Narayan Swami v. Pannerselvam
• S R Batra v. Taruna Batra

Rule – statute must be read as a whole
• Regional Provident fund Commissioner v. Shri Krishna Manufacturing Bhandara

Generalia Specialibus non derogant
• Venkata Ramana Devaru v. State of Mysore

Ut res Magis Valeat quam pereat

Strict interpretation
• Chinubhai v. State of Bombay
• CIT v. Kotla Yadgiri
• Cape Brandy Syndicate v I.R.C

Noscitur a Sociis
• Commissioner of Custom v. Savoy Hotel
• State of Assam v. R. Mohammed

Ejusdem Generis
• DPP v. Jordan
• DCCT v. Ambika Stores
• Siddheshwari Cotton Mills v. Collector of Excise

Presumptions of Construction

  • R. Hariprasad v. State – Unless a statute either clearly or by necessary implication rules out mens rea as a constituent part of the crime, a person should not be found guilty of an offence against the criminal law unless he has got a guilty mind.
  • Ranjit D. Udeshi v. State of Maharashtra  – Book shop owner charged with charges of carrying or selling obscene objects. Defence – no knowledge exists. The court said that the first subsection of s.292 does not make the knowledge of obscenity an ingredient of the offence. The prosecution need not prove something that law hasn’t burdened it with. If knowledge were to be made an essential requirement in this crime, then the defence would have an impenetrable defence.

Ex Post Facto Laws 

  • Pyaare Lal Sharma v JK industries – No one can be penalised on the ground of a conduct which was not penal on the day it was committed. Amended regulation could not operate retrospectively but only from the date of amendment. Unauthorised absence amendment leading to termination. Order of termination cannot be sustained.

Contemporania Expositio Est Optima Et Fortissima Lege

Nemo Potent Mutare Consillium Suum In Alterius Injuriam (No one is allowed to change his mind to the injury of others)

Ut Res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat

Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius

Directory or Mandatory Rules
• T V Usman v. Food Inspector (Subsidiary rules)
State of UP v. M L Shrivastava 

Legal Fiction
· State of Maharashtra v. Laljit Rajshi Shah 

Non Obstante Clause
· Kanwar Raj v. Pramod 
· Ashwini Kumar Ghosh v. Arbind Bose 

Internal Aids to Interpretation – Preamble
Berubari Union
• Kesavananda Bharati v Union of India

Internal Aids to Interpretation – Headings
Frick India v Union of India

Internal Aids to Interpretation – Illustrations
Mohammed Syedol Ariffin v. Yeoh Oai Gark 

Internal Aids to Interpretation – Definition Clause
·  CIT v. Taj Hyderabad
·  Pushpa v Milkhiram

Internal Aids to Interpretation – Short Title
• Biswambhar Singh v. State of Orissa

Internal Aids to Interpretation – Marginal Notes
Bengal Immunity Case

Proviso Clause
·  Sundaram Pillai v. Pattabiraman

Aswini Kumar Ghosh v. Arabinda Bose
Mohammad Shabir v. State of Maharashtra

Interpretation of Tax Statutes
State of Punjab v. Jalandhar Vegetables
Atlas Cycles industries v. State of Haryana

Effect of Repeal
Shambhudayal v. Union of India
• Govt. Of India v. Indian tobacco Association

Conjunctive and disjunctive words

R v. Oakes – In section 7 of the Official Secrets Act, 1920, which reads : ‘Any person who attempts to commit any offence under the principal Act or this Act, or solicits or incites or endeavours to persuade another person to commit an offence, or aids or abets and does any act preparatory to the commission of an offence’,
the word ‘and’ printed in  Italics was read as ‘or’ for by reading ‘and’ as ‘and’ the result produced was unintelligible and absurd and against the clear intention of the Legislature

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