Biswambhar Singh v. State of Orissa – Interpretation of Statutes

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Wide discretion conferred on the Government under a statute and challenged as arbitrary has been upheld on the ground that the discretion so conferred can be exercised only in furtherance of the object and policy of the Act as given out by the long title and preamble and is thus not unfettered or unguided. Though short titles do not play a significant role in the interpretative process the long title of the act is a part of the Act and is admissible as an aid to its construction. It can be referred for the purpose of ascertaining the policy, scope and purpose of the act.

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State of UP v. M L Shrivastava – Interpretation of Statutes

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Facts- A government servant had a second right to appeal under Article 320 of the Constitution. It talked about the consultation process with the UPSC and SPSC (State Public Service Commission) in all disciplinary matters. Here they were not consulted. The court decided that since the aim is to punish corrupt officers they interpreted shall be directory that is to have the implication of may.

Take away from the case- “The question whether a statute is mandatory or directory depends upon the intent of the legislature and not the language in which the intent is clothed. The meaning and intention of the Legislature must govern, and these are to be ascertained not only from the phraseology of the provision but also by considering its nature, its design and the consequences which would follow from construing it the one way or the other. The court may consider inter alia, the nature and design of the statute, and the consequences which would follow from construing it the one way or the other; the impact of other provisions in question is avoided; the circumstances namely, that the statute provides for a contingency of the non-compliance with the provision is or is not visited by some penalty; the serious or the trivial consequences, that flow therefrom; and above all, whether the object of the legislation will be defeated or furthered.
If by holding a statute mandatory serious general inconvenience will be created to innocent persons without very much further the object of the enactment, the same will be construed as directory.

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Sundaram Pillai v. Pattabiraman – Interpretation of Statutes

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The well-established rule of interpretation of a proviso is that a proviso may have three e . rate functions. In other words, a proviso cannot be ton apart from the main enactment nor can it be use, to nullify or set at naught the real object of the main enactment. While interpreting a proviso sure be taken that it is used to remove special cases from the general enactment and provide for them separately In short, generally speaking a proviso is intended to limit the enacted provision so as to except something which would have otherwise been within it or in some measure to modify the enacting clause. Sometimes a proviso may be embedded in the main provision and becomes an integral part of it so as to amount to a substantive provision itself.

To Sum up, a proviso may serve four different purposes:

1. qualifying or excepting certain provisions from the main enactment;
2. it may entirely change the very concept of the intendment of the enactment by insisting on certain mandatory conditions to be fulfilled in order to make the enactment workable;
3. it may be embedded in the Act itself as to become an integral part of the enactment and thus acquire the tenor and colour of the substantive enactment itself; and
4. it may be used merely to act as an optional addenda to the enactment with the sale object of explaining the real intendment of the statutory provision.

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Pushpa v Milkhiram – Interpretation of Statutes

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When a word has been defined in the interpretation clause, prima facie that definition governs wherever that word is used in the body of the Statute unless the context requires otherwise. The context is both internal and external. The internal context requires the interpreter to situate the disputed words within the section of which they are part and in relation to the rest of the Act.

The external context involves determining the meaning from ordinary linguistic usage (including any special technical meanings) from the purpose for which the provision was passed, and from the place of the provisions within the general scheme of statutory and common law rules and principles.

Even where the definition is exhaustive in as much as the word defined is said to mean a certain thing, it is possible for the word to have a somewhat different meaning in different sections of the Act depending upon the subject or context

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CIT v. Taj Hyderabad – Interpretation of Statutes

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Where a word is not defined in a statute, it must be construed in its popular sense, that is, that sense which people conversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing, would attribute to it. The word ‘includes’ is generally used to enlarge the meaning of words or phrases used in the statute so that, words and phrases may be construed as comprehending not only such things as they signify according to their nature and import, but also these things which the interpretation clause declares that they shall include. The fact that even books have been included in ‘plant’ shows that the meaning given to ‘plant’ is wide. It should cover sanitary and pipe-line fittings.

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Mohammed Syedol Ariffin v. Yeoh Oai Gark – Interpretation of Statutes

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It is an appeal which arises the Malay Bench (Straits settlement court) to the Bombay High Court.
Y is a money lender. S’s Father owed him money but he dies. S mortgages his house, but later claimed to be a minor, thereby attempting to invalidate the mortgage.
Section 32(5) of the Straits settlement very close to Section 32(5) of Indian Evidence Act. Section 32(5) of SS Act –Instances where statements of fact by a dead person is relevant.
S claims that he is a minor based on the diary of his father. Is the entry admissible?
The illustration under Section 32 states- Question as to A’s birth- A letter from A’s deceased father about his birth is a relevant fact. The court uses the illustration given under Section 32 of Straits settlement act to states that the statement by the dead father is relevant. Illustrations should not be used in a restrictive manner.
It is the duty of a court of law to accept if that can be done, the illustrations given as being both of relevance and value in the construction of the text. The illustration should in no case be rejected because they do not square with ideas possibly desired from another system of jurisprudence as to the law with which they or the section deal.
And it would require a very special case to warrant their rejection on the ground of their concerned repugnancy to the section themselves. It would be the very last resort of construction to make this assumption.

Their Lordships are of opinion that in the construction of the Evidence Ordinance it is the duty of a Court of law to accept, if that can be done, the illustrations given as being both of relevance and value in the construction of the text. The illustrations should in no case be rejected because they do not square with ideas possibly derived from another system of jurisprudence as to the law with which they or the sections deal. And it would require a very special case to warrant their rejection on the ground of their assumed repugnancy to the sections themselves. It would be the very last resort of construction to make such any assumption. The great usefulness of the illustrations, which have, although not part of the sections, been expressly furnished by the Legislature as helpful in the working and application of the Statute, should not be thus impaired.

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Frick India v Union of India (Headings) – Interpretation of Statutes

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It is well-settled that the headings prefixed to sections or entries cannot control the plain words of the provision; they cannot also be referred to for the purpose of construing the provision when the words used in the provision are clear and unambiguous; nor can they be used for cutting down the plain meaning of the words in the provision. Only, in the case of ambiguity or doubt the heading or sub-heading may be referred to as an aid in construing the provision but even in such a case it could not be used for cutting down the wide application of the clear words used in the provision. An interpretation which makes any part of a statute redundant has to be discarded.

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Kesavananda Bharati v Union of India – Interpretation of Statutes

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The SC ruled that the Preamble to the Constitution of India is a apart of Constitution; the Preamble is not a source of power or a source of limitations or prohibitions; the Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes, also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.

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Berubari Union – Interpretation of Statutes

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SC held that preamble itself is not a source of power. Every State has by virtue of its sovereignty the power to cede territory and this right cannot be regarded as having been taken away by Preamble. The Preamble to the Constitution, containing the declaration made by the people of India in exercise of their sovereign will, no doubt is “a key to open the mind of the makers” which may show the general purposes for which they made the several provisions in the Constitution but nevertheless the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.

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Ashwini Kumar Ghosh v. Arbind Bose – Interpretation of Statutes

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The non-obstante clause in s. 2 can reasonably be read as overriding “anything contained” in any relevant existing law which is inconsistent with the new enactment. Sections 9(4) and 14(3) of the Bar Councils Act and s. 2 of the new Act cannot stand together. Whether by force of the non-obstante clause liberally construed or of the well established maxim of construction that the enacting part of an Act must, when it is clear, control the non-obstante clause when both cannot be read harmoniously, the new Act must have the effect of abrogating the powers reserved and continued in the High Courts by ss. 9(4) and 14(3) of the Bar Councils Act.

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