The doctrine of Beneficial Construction The term ‘Interpretation’ is derived from the Latin term ‘interpretari’ which means to explain or to understand or translate. Interpretation is a process through which one ascertains the true and correct intention of the law-making bodies as is laid in the form of statutes.
It is a familiar feature of law and legal practices. Interpretation is an important aspect of the practice of law. The interpretation has a very important role in justice administration in the sense that it helps the legal system “understand” the law. Interpretation makes understanding possible of the subject.
Interpretation is the art of finding out the true sense of any form or words; i.e. the sense which their framers intended to convey, and of enabling others to drive from them the same idea which the author intended to convey. Interpretation only takes place if the text conveys some meaning or other.
Thus the courts are expected not to act arbitrarily and consequently, they are to follow the rules of interpretation. For interpretation of the statute, the court has to apply some principles and rules, the rule of beneficial construction is one of them. Golden Rule of interpretation is that the grammatical ordinary sense of the words is to be adhered unless that would lead to absurdity or inconsistency.
Where the words In question are ambiguous and are reasonably capable of more than one meaning, courts must adopt the construction which may suppress the mischief and advance the remedy. Beneficial construction involves giving the widest meaning possible to the statutes. When there are two or more possible ways of interpreting a section or a word, the meaning which gives relief and protects the benefits which are purported to be given by the legislation should be chosen.
A beneficial statute is a class of statute which seeks to confer a benefit on individuals or class of persons by relieving them of an onerous obligation under contracts entered into by them or which tend to protect persons against oppressive act from individuals with whom they stand in certain relations.
Laws which are enacted with the object of promoting the general welfare and facing urgent social demands receive beneficial legislation. Examples of statutes include The Factories Act, Industrial Disputes Act, etc. A beneficial statute has to be construed in its correct perspective so as to fructify the legislative intent.
Although beneficial legislation does receive liberal interpretation, the courts try to remain within the scheme and not extend the benefit to those not covered by the scheme. There is no set principle of construction that beneficial legislation should always be retrospectively operated although such legislation is either expressly or by necessary intendment not made retrospective.
In Budhan v. Nabi Bux AIR 1970 S.C.1980 case, the Court observed that the object of every legislation is to advance public welfare. Justice and reason constituted the great general legislative Intent In every piece of legislation. In Tola Ram v. the State of Bombay, AIR 1954 S.C.496 case, the Court observed: “It is a well-settled rule of construction of penal statutes that if two possible and reasonable constructions can be put upon a penal provision, the Court must lean towards that construction which exempts the subject from penalty rather than the one which imposes a penalty.” In Commissioner of Income Tax Punjab v K.V.
- Trans Co. (P) Ltd., 1970 (2) S.C.C.192 case, the Court said: “It is said that in a Taxing Act one has to look merely at what is clearly said.
- There is no room for any intendment.
- There is no equity about a tax.
- There is no presumption as to a tax.
- Nothing is to be read in, nothing is to be implied.
- One can only look fairly at the language used.
However, while construing the provisions of a taxing statute, if two views are possible the view which is favourable to the assessee must be accepted.” In Munni Devi v. Hem Prakash, 1981 All. Civil Journal (25) case, the Court observed that the rules of procedure are said to be the handmaid of justice.
It is settled law, that procedural provisions should not be used as traps to catch litigants unaware, they should be construed so as to advance the cause of justice. In B Shah v Presiding Officer, AIR 1978 SC 12 case, Labour Court applied the rule of beneficial construction in construing section 5 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which makes the employer liable to pay maternity benefit to a woman worker at the rate of average daily wage for the period of her actual absence immediately preceding and including the day of her delivery and for six weeks immediately following that day.
The court held that Sundays must also be included and held that the Act was intended not only to subsist but also make up for her dissipated energy and take care of the child. The Act was read in the light of Article 42. In Sheela Barse v. Union of India, AIR 1986 SC 1773 case, a petition was filed by a social worker seeking the release of children below 16 years who were detained in jails.
It was observed by the Supreme Court that clause (f) of Article 39 provides that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
Although Acts are on the statute book, in some states the Acts have not brought into force. The Supreme Court held that this piece of legislation is for the fulfillment of a constitutional obligation and a beneficial statute. Ordinarily, it is a matter for the State Government to decide as to when a particular statute should be brought into force but in the present setting we think that it is appropriate that without delay every state should ensure that the Act is brought into force and administered in accordance with its provisions.
Conclusion: Laws which are enacted with the object of promoting the general welfare and facing urgent social demands receive beneficial legislation. A beneficial statute has to be construed in its correct perspective so as to fructify the legislative intent. Although beneficial legislation does receive liberal interpretation, the courts try to remain within the scheme and not extend the benefit to those not covered by the scheme.
: The doctrine of Beneficial Construction
- 1 What is the meaning of harmonious construction?
- 2 What is harmonious or consistent interpretation?
- 3 In which of the following rule of construction the words of statute must be constructed so as to lead to a sensible meaning?
- 4 What is Ejusdem generis principle?
- 5 Why is Article XIII important?
- 6 What is waiver doctrine?
- 7 What are the general principles of construction of statute?
- 8 What is a beneficial interest in law?
- 8.1 What are the rules of construction in case of any ambiguity in beneficial statute?
- 8.2 What is the difference between interpretation and construction?
- 8.3 Which is an example of a statute?
- 8.4 What is harmonious construction in IOS?
What is the meaning of harmonious construction?
Harmonious construction is a principle of statutory interpretation used in the Indian legal system. It holds that when two provisions of a legal text seem to conflict, they should be interpreted so that each has a separate effect and neither is redundant or nullified.
What is harmonious or consistent interpretation?
Rule of Harmonious Construction – When there is a conflict between two or more statues or two or more parts of a statute then the rule of harmonious construction needs to be adopted. The rule follows a very simple premise that every statute has a purpose and intent as per law and should be read as a whole.
The interpretation consistent of all the provisions of the statute should be adopted. In the case in which it shall be impossible to harmonize both the provisions, the court’s decision regarding the provision shall prevail. The rule of harmonious construction is the thumb rule to interpretation of any statute.
An interpretation which makes the enactment a consistent whole, should be the aim of the Courts and a construction which avoids inconsistency or repugnancy between the various sections or parts of the statute should be adopted. The Courts should avoid “a head on clash”, in the words of the Apex Court, between the different parts of an enactment and conflict between the various provisions should be sought to be harmonized.
- The normal presumption should be consistency and it should not be assumed that what is given with one hand by the legislature is sought to be taken away by the other.
- The rule of harmonious construction has been tersely explained by the Supreme Court thus, “When there are, in an enactment two provisions which cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted, that if possible, effect should be given to both”.
A construction which makes one portion of the enactment a dead letter should be avoided since harmonization is not equivalent to destruction. Harmonious Construction should be applied to statutory rules and courts should avoid absurd or unintended results.
Which of the following doctrine is Article 13?
Doctrine of Severability – With the adoption of the Constitution of India in the year 1950, Part III in the form of also came into effect.
The fundamental rights are a set of inherent rights which guarantees to every citizen of this country a life of dignified existence and holistic all-round development. Any law that infringes upon these rights is liable to be struck down by the courts. The question however arises as to what happens when only a portion of the impugned law is violative of fundamental rights, and it is in instances like these that the doctrine of severability is invoked.
The doctrine derives its validity from Article 13 which states, “All laws in force in India, before the commencement of the Constitution, in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of fundamental rights shall to the extent of that inconsistency be void.”
As an extension of Article 13, the doctrine states that when some particular provision of the statute infringes or violates the fundamental rights, but the provision is severable from the rest of the statute, and then only that provision will be declared void by the courts and not the entire statute. The doctrine essentially lays down that if violative and non-violative provisions are separated in a way that the non-violative provision can exist without the violative provision, then the non-violative provision will be upheld as valid and enforceable.
In which of the following rule of construction the words of statute must be constructed so as to lead to a sensible meaning?
Rule of Reasonable Construction or Golden Rule According to this rule, the words of a statute must be construed ut res magis valeat quam pareat, so as to give a sensible meaning to them.
What is a beneficial legislation?
Critical Analysis on Interpretation of Beneficial Legislation 7 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2021 Date Written: February 9, 2021 Legislations nowadays are made in keeping in mind about a beneficial object in it for each and every individual of a country. Beneficial legislation certainly have a larger public interest and more welfare ambitions.
Which of the following are example of beneficial statute?
T opic 1: Principles of Beneficial Constructi on Introduction A beneficial statute is a class of statute which seeks to confer benefit on individual s or class of persons by relieving them of onerous obligation under contracts entered into by them or which tend to protect persons against oppressive act from indivi duals with whom they stand in certain relations.
- The established principle in the construction of such statutes is there should not be any narrow interpretation.
- The court should attempt to be generous towards the persons on whom benefit should be conferred.
- When a statute is interpreted liberally to give the widest possible meaning to it, it is called beneficial construction.
Beneficial construction is an interpretation to secure remedy to the victim who is unjustly denied of relief. The interpretation of a statue should be done in such a way that mischief is suppressed and remedy is advanced. Principles of Beneficial Construction Beneficial construction involves giving the widest meaning possible to the statutes.
When there are two or more possible ways of interpre ting a section or a word, the meaning which gives relief and protects the benefits which are purported to be given by the legislation, should be chosen. A beneficial statute has to be construed in its correct perspective so as to fructi fy the legislative intent.
Although benefic ial legislation does receive liberal interpretation, the courts try to remain within the scheme and not extend the benefit to those not covered by the scheme. It is also true that once the provision envisages the conferment of benefit limi ted in point of time and subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions, their non-compliance will have the effect of nullifying the benefit.
There should be due stress and emphasis to Directive Principles of S tat e Policy and any international convention on the subject. There is no set principle of construction that a beneficial legislation should always be retrospectively operated although s uch legislation such legislation is either expressly or by necessary intendment not made retrospective.
Further, the rule of interpretation can only be resorted to without doing any violence to the language of the statute. In case of any exception when the impleme ntation of the beneficial act is restricted the Court woul d construe it narrowly so as not to unduly expand the area or scope of exception.
The liberal constructi on can only flow from the language of the act and there cannot be placing of unnatural interpretation on the words contained in the enactment. Also, beneficial construction does not permit raising of any presumption that protection of widest amplitude must be deemed to have been conferred on those for whose benefit the legislation may have been enacted.
Illustrations On Beneficial Legislations And Interpr etation There are different kind of legislations which receive beneficial construction. Laws which are enacted with the object of promoting general welfare and facing urgent social demands receive beneficial legislations.
What is Ejusdem generis principle?
Ejusdem Generis A Latin phrase meaning “of the same kind”. The rule requires that where in a statute there are general words following particular and specific words, the general words must be confined to things of the same kind as those specifically mentioned.
Why is Article XIII important?
5. Article 13 secures the granting of an effective remedy before a national authority to everyone whose Convention rights and freedoms have been violated.
What is waiver doctrine?
7] The doctrine of waiver explains that a person, entitled to a right or privilege, is free to waive that right or privilege. It is voluntary relinquishment or abandonment of a known existing legal right or privilege. Once a person has so waived his right, he would not be allowed to claim it afterwards.
What are the general principles of construction of statute?
Brief regarding Rules of Interpretation of statutes
- Enacted laws, especially the modern acts and rules, are drafted by legal experts and it could be expected that the language used will leave little room for interpretation or construction.
- But the experience of all those who have to bear and share the task of application of the law has been different.
It is not necessary that the words used in a statute are always clear, explicit and unambiguous and thus, in such cases it is very essential for courts to determine a clear and explicit meaning of the words or phrases used by the legislature and at the same time remove all the doubts if any. Hence, all the rules mentioned in the article are important for providing justice.
- Interpretation means
- The term has been derived from the Latin term ‘interpretari’, which means
- > to explain,
- > expound,
- > understand, or
- > to translate.
- Interpretation is the process of explaining, expounding and translating any text or anything in written form.
This basically involves an act of discovering the true meaning of the language which has been used in the statute. Various sources used are only limited to explore the written text and clarify what exactly has been indicated by the words used in the written text or the statutes.
- Interpretation of statutes is the correct understanding of the law.
- This process is commonly adopted by the courts for determining the exact intention of the legislature.
- Because the objective of the court is not only merely to read the law but is also to apply it in a meaningful manner to suit from case to case.
It is also used for ascertaining the actual connotation of any Act or document with the actual intention of the legislature.
- There can be mischief in the statute which is required to be cured, and this can be done by applying various norms and theories of interpretation which might go against the literal meaning at times.
- The purpose behind interpretation is to clarify the meaning of the words used in the statutes which might not be that clear.
- the art of finding out the true sense of an enactment by giving the words of the enactment their natural and ordinary meaning.
It is the process of ascertaining the true meaning of the words used in a statute. The Court is not expected to interpret arbitrarily and therefore there have been certain principles which have evolved out of the continuous exercise by the Courts. These principles are sometimes called ‘rules of interpretation’.
- Interpretation of statute is the process of ascertaining the true meaning of the words used in a statute.
- Object of interpretation
- When the language of the statute is clear, there is no need for the rules of interpretation.
But, in certain cases, more than one meaning may be derived from the same word or sentence. It is, therefore, necessary to interpret the statute to find out the real intention of the statute.
- determine the intention of the legislature
- conveyed expressly or impliedly in the language used.
- In the process of interpretation, several aids are used.
- They may be statutory or non-statutory.
- Statutory aids may be illustrated by the General Clauses Act, 1897 and by specific definitions contained in individuals Acts.
- Non-statutory aids are illustrated by common law rules of interpretation (including certain presumptions relating to interpretation) and also by case-laws relating to the interpretation of statutes.
- Interpretation of Statutes is required for two basic reasons:-
- Legislative Language – Legislative language may be complicated for a layman, and hence may require interpretation; and
- Legislative Intent – The intention of the legislature or Legislative intent assimilates
- two aspects:
a. the concept of ‘meaning’, i.e., what the word means; and b. the concept of ‘purpose’ and ‘object’ or the ‘reason’ or ‘spirit’ pervading through the statute.
- Principles of interpretation
- The fundamental principle of statutory interpretation is that the words of a statute be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of the legislature.
- Some Important points to be taken care of in the context of interpreting Statutes:
- Intention of the legislature.
- Statute must be read as a whole in its Context.
- Statute should be Construed so as to make it Effective and Workable – if statutory provision is ambiguous and capable of various constructions, then that construction must be adopted which will give meaning and effect to the other provisions of the enactment rather than that which will give none.
- If meaning is plain, effect must be given to it irrespective of consequences.
- The process of construction combines both the literal and purposive approaches.
- The purposive construction rule highlights that you should shift from literal construction when it leads to absurdity.
- Nature and Scope
- Necessity of interpretation would arise only where the language of a statutory provision is
- > ambiguous,
- > not clear or
- > where two views are possible or
- > where the provision gives a different meaning defeating the object of the statute.
- If the language is clear and unambiguous, no need of interpretation would arise.
In this regard, a Constitution Bench of five Judges of the Supreme Court in R.S. Nayak v A.R. Antulay, has held: ” If the words of the Statute are clear and unambiguous, it is the plainest duty of the Court to give effect to the natural meaning of the words used in the provision.
- Again Supreme Court in Grasim Industries Ltd. v Collector of Customs, Bombay, has followed the same principle and observed:
- “Where the words are clear and there is no obscurity, and there is no ambiguity and the intention of the legislature is clearly conveyed, there is no scope for court to take upon itself the task of amending or altering the statutory provisions.”
- The purpose of Interpretation of Statutes is to help the Judge to ascertain the intention of the Legislature – not to control that intention or to confine it within the limits, which the Judge may deem reasonable or expedient.
- The correct is one that best harmonises the words with the object of the statute.
- Difference between Interpretation and Construction
“Interpretation differs from construction in the sense that the former is the art of finding out the true sense of any form of words; i.e. the sense that their author intended to convey. Construction on the other hand, is the drawing of conclusions, respecting the subjects that lie beyond the direct expression of the text.
|Sl. No.||Grammatical Interpretation||Logical Interpretation|
|1||Literal Interpretation||Functional Interpretation|
|2||Letter of Law||Spirit of Law|
|3||Looks at Verbal Expression of Law||Looks beyond Verbal Expression of Law|
|4||Tries to find meaning of words given in the legislature||Tries to find true intention of the legislature|
|5||The popular or dictionary meaning of the term is referred||Check the circumstances under which law was written|
|6||It gives the plain sense||It looks for inherent sense|
|7||Used frequently in courts||Used rarely in courts|
According to this rule, the words used in this text are to be given or interpreted in their natural or ordinary meaning, After the interpretation, if the meaning is completely clear and unambiguous then the effect shall be given to a provision of a statute regardless of what may be the consequences.
The basic rule is that whatever the intention legislature had while making any provision it has been expressed through words and thus, are to be interpreted according to the rules of grammar. It is the safest rule of interpretation of statutes because the intention of the legislature is deduced from the words and the language used.
According to this rule, the only duty of the court is to give effect if the language of the statute is plain and has no business to look into the consequences which might arise. The only obligation of the court is to expound the law as it is and if any harsh consequences arise then the remedy for it shall be sought and looked out by the legislature.
Case Laws Maqbool Hussain v. State of Bombay, In this case, the appellant, a citizen of India after arriving at the airport did not declare that he was carrying gold with him. During his search was carried on, gold was found in his possession as it was against the notification of the government and was confiscated under section 167(8) of Sea Customs Act.
Later on, he was also charged under section 8 of the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act, 1947. The appellant challenged this trial to be violative under Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution. According to this article, no person shall be punished or prosecuted more than once for the same offence.
This is considered as double jeopardy. It was held by the court that the Seas Act neither a court nor any judicial tribunal. Thus, accordingly, he was not prosecuted earlier. Hence, his trial was held to be valid. State of Kerala v. Mathai Verghese and others, 1987 AIR 33 SCR(1) 317, in this case a person was caught along with the counterfeit currency “dollars” and he was charged under section 120B, 498A, 498C and 420 read with section 511 and 34 of Indian Penal Code for possessing counterfeit currency.
The accused contended before the court that a charge under section 498A and 498B of Indian Penal Code can only be levied in the case of counterfeiting of Indian currency notes and not in the case of counterfeiting of foreign currency notes. The court held that the word currency notes or bank note cannot be prefixed.
- The person was held liable to be charge-sheeted.
- The Mischief Rule/Purposive construction A rule of statutory interpretation that attempts to determine the legislator’s intention – to determine the mischief and defect – to give ruling to implement the effective remedy.
- Mischief Rule was originated in Heydon’s case in 1584.
It is the rule of purposive construction because the purpose of this statute is most important while applying this rule. It is known as Heydon’s rule because it was given by Lord Poke in Heydon’s case in 1584. It is called as mischief rule because the focus is on curing the mischief.
In the Heydon’s case, it was held that there are four things which have to be followed for true and sure interpretation of all the statutes in general, which are as follows- 1. What was the common law before the making of an act.2. What was the mischief for which the present statute was enacted.3. What remedy did the Parliament sought or had resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the commonwealth.4.
The true reason of the remedy. The purpose of this rule is to suppress the mischief and advance the remedy. Case laws Smith v. Huges, 1960 WLR 830, in this case around the 1960s, the prostitutes were soliciting in the streets of London and it was creating a huge problem in London.
- This was causing a great problem in maintaining law and order.
- To prevent this problem, Street Offences Act, 1959 was enacted.
- After the enactment of this act, the prostitutes started soliciting from windows and balconies.
- Further, the prostitutes who were carrying on to solicit from the streets and balconies were charged under section 1(1) of the said Act.
But the prostitutes pleaded that they were not solicited from the streets. The court held that although they were not soliciting from the streets yet the mischief rule must be applied to prevent the soliciting by prostitutes and shall look into this issue.
Thus, by applying this rule, the court held that the windows and balconies were taken to be an extension of the word street and charge sheet was held to be correct. Pyare Lal v. Ram Chandra, the accused in this case, was prosecuted for selling the sweeten supari which was sweetened with the help of an artificial sweetener.
He was prosecuted under the Food Adulteration Act. It was contended by Pyare Lal that supari is not a food item. The court held that the dictionary meaning is not always the correct meaning, thereby, the mischief rule must be applicable, and the interpretation which advances the remedy shall be taken into consideration.
Therefore, the court held that the word ‘food’ is consumable by mouth and orally. Thus, his prosecution was held to be valid. Kanwar Singh v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1965 SC 871. Issues of the case were as follows- section 418 of Delhi Corporation Act, 1902 authorised the corporation to round up the cattle grazing on the government land.
The MCD rounded up the cattle belonging to Kanwar Singh. The words used in the statute authorised the corporation to round up the abandoned cattle. It was contended by Kanwar Singh that the word abandoned means the loss of ownership and those cattle which were round up belonged to him and hence, was not abandoned.
The court held that the mischief rule had to be applied and the word abandoned must be interpreted to mean let loose or left unattended and even the temporary loss of ownership would be covered as abandoned. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner v. Sri Krishna Manufacturing Company, AIR 1962 SC 1526, Issue, in this Case, was that the respondent concerned was running a factory where four units were for manufacturing.
Out of these four units one was for paddy mill, other three consisted of flour mill, saw mill and copper sheet units. The number of employees there were more than 50. The RPFC applied the provisions of Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952 thereby directing the factory to give the benefits to the employees.
- The Golden Rule
- It is a form of statutory interpretation that allows a judge to depart from a word’s normal meaning in order to avoid an absurd result.
- It is a compromise between the rule of interpretation and the rule of mischief. To be used in two ways-
- It is applied most frequently in a narrow sense where there is some ambiguity or absurdity in the words themselves.
- It is used in a wider sense to avoid a result that is obnoxious to the principles of public policy.
It is known as the golden rule because it solves all the problems of interpretation. The rule says that to start with we shall go by the literal rule, however, if the interpretation given through the literal rule leads to some or any kind of ambiguity, injustice, inconvenience, hardship, inequity, then in all such events the literal meaning shall be discarded and interpretation shall be done in such a manner that the purpose of the legislation is fulfilled.
The literal rule follows the concept of interpreting the natural meaning of the words used in the statute. But if interpreting natural meaning leads to any sought of repugnance, absurdity or hardship, then the court must modify the meaning to the extent of injustice or absurdity caused and no further to prevent the consequence.
This rule suggests that the consequences and effects of interpretation deserve a lot more important because they are the clues of the true meaning of the words used by the legislature and its intention. At times, while applying this rule, the interpretation done may entirely be opposite of the literal rule, but it shall be justified because of the golden rule.
- Important aspects of this rule
- The court must construe the contradictory provisions so as to harmonize them.
- The provision of one section cannot be used to defeat the provisions in another unless the Court, despite all its efforts, is unable to find a way to reconcile their differences.
- When it is impossible to reconcile the differences in contradictory provisions completely, the court must interpret them in such a way so as that effect is given to both the provisions as much as possible.
- It is not a harmonious construction if the interpretation reduces one provisions to be useless and not to destroy it or render it to loose.
- Case laws
- Tirath Singh v. Bachittar Singh, AIR 1955 SC 850
- In this case, there was an issue with regard to issuing of the notice under section 99 of Representation of People’s Act, 1951, with regard to corrupt practices involved in the election.
According to the rule, the notice shall be issued to all those persons who are a party to the election petition and at the same time to those who are not a party to it. Tirath Singh contended that no such notice was issued to him under the said provision.
The notices were only issued to those who were non-parties to the election petition. This was challenged to be invalid on this particular ground. The court held that what is contemplated is giving of the information and the information even if it is given twice remains the same. The party to the petition is already having the notice regarding the petition, therefore, section 99 shall be so interpreted by applying the golden rule that notice is required against non-parties only.
State of Madhya Pradesh v. Azad Bharat Financial Company, AIR 1967 SC 276, Issues of the case are as follows. A transporting company was carrying a parcel of apples was challenged and charge-sheeted. The truck of the transporting company was impounded as the parcel contained opium along with the apples.
- At the same time, the invoice shown for the transport consisted of apples only.
- Section 11 of the opium act 1878, all the vehicles which transport the contraband articles shall be impounded and articles shall be confiscated.
- It was confiscated by the transport company that they were unaware of the fact that opium was loaded along with the apples in the truck.
The court held that although the words contained in section 11 of the said act provided that the vehicle shall be confiscated but by applying the literal rule of interpretation for this provision it is leading to injustice and inequity and therefore, this interpretation shall be avoided.
The words ‘shall be confiscated’ should be interpreted as ‘may be confiscated’. State of Punjab v. Quiser Jehan Begum, AIR 1963 SC 1604, a period of limitation was prescribed for, under section 18 of land acquisition act, 1844, that an appeal shall be filed for the announcement of the award within 6 months of the announcement of the compensation.
Award was passed in the name of Quiser Jehan. It was intimated to her after the period of six months about this by her counsel. The appeal was filed beyond the period of six months. The appeal was rejected by the lower courts. It was held by the court that the period of six months shall be counted from the time when Quiser Jehan had the knowledge because the interpretation was leading to absurdity.
The court by applying the golden rule allowed the appeal. Harmonious Construction When there is a conflict between two or more statutes or two or more parts of a statute then this rule is to be adopted. If it is not possible to harmonize the two statutes, then the court is to decide the same and it shall prevail.
There should be consistency. According to this rule of interpretation, when two or more provisions of the same statute are repugnant to each other, then in such a situation the court, if possible, will try to construe the provisions in such a manner as to give effect to both the provisions by maintaining harmony between the two.
The question that the two provisions of the same statute are overlapping or mutually exclusive may be difficult to determine. The legislature clarifies its intention through the words used in the provision of the statute. So, here the basic principle of harmonious construction is that the legislature could not have tried to contradict itself.
In the cases of interpretation of the Constitution, the rule of harmonious construction is applied many times. It can be assumed that if the legislature has intended to give something by one, it would not intend to take it away with the other hand as both the provisions have been framed by the legislature and absorbed the equal force of law.
One provision of the same act cannot make the other provision useless. Thus, in no circumstances, the legislature can be expected to contradict itself. Cases – Ishwari Khaitan Sugar Mills v. State of Uttar Pradesh, in this case, the State Government proposed to acquire sugar industries under U.P Sugar Undertakings (Acquisition) Act, 1971.
This was challenged on the ground that these sugar industries were declared to be a controlled one by the union under Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951. And accordingly, the state did not have the power of acquisition of requisition of property which was under the control of the union.
The Supreme Court held that the power of acquisition was not occupied by Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951. The state had a separate power under Entry 42 List III.M.S.M Sharma v. Krishna Sinha, AIR 1959 SC 395. Facts of the case are as follows- Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution provides for freedom of speech and expression.
Article 194(3) provides to the Parliament for punishing for its contempt and it is known as the Parliamentary Privilege. In this case, an editor of a newspaper published the word -for- word record of the proceedings of the Parliament including those portions which were expunged from the record.
- Rule of reasonable construction
- This rule stresses upon the intention of the legislature to bring up the statute and sensible and not the prima facie meaning of the statute.
- This helps to clear the error caused due to the faulty draftsmanship.
- Rule of beneficial construction
- Beneficial construction is a tendency and not a rule.
- This principle is based on human tendency to be fair, accommodating and just.
In one case the Tribunal awarded more number of paid leaves to the workers than stated in section 79(1) of the Factories Act. This has been challenged. The Supreme Court held that the enactment being welfare legislation for the workers had to be beneficially constructed in favor of the workers.
- 2. Secondary Rules –
- 1. Noscitur a sociis –
- It can be used wherever a statutory provision contains a word or phrase that is capable of bearing more than one meaning.
- Noscere means to know and sociis means association.
- Thus, Noscitur a Sociis means knowing from association.
- a doctrine or rule of construction: the meaning of an unclear or ambiguous word (as in a statute or contract) should be determined by considering the words with which it is associated in the context.
- The meaning of an unclear word or phrase should be determined by the words immediately surrounding it.
- In other words, the meaning of a word is to be judged by the company it keeps.
- The questionable meaning of a doubtful word can be derived from its association with other words.
This rule is explained in Maxwell on the interpretation of statutes (12th edition ) in following words – When two or more words susceptible of analogous meaning are coupled together, they are understood to be used in their cognate sense. The words take their colour from and are quantified by each other, the meaning of the general words being restricted to a sense analogous to that of the less general.
- When a word is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined by reference to the rest of the statute.
- Thus, under the doctrine of “noscitur a sociis” the questionable meaning of a word or doubtful words can be derived from its association with other words within the context of the phrase.
- Relying on the above,
The apex court in Pradeep Agarbatti with reference to the Punjab Sales Tax Act held that the word, “perfumery” means such articles as used in cosmetics and toilet goods viz, sprays, etc but does not include ‘Dhoop’ and ‘Agarbatti’. This is because in Schedule ‘A’ Entry 16 of Punjab Sales Tax Act reads as “cosmetics, perfumery & toilet goods excluding toothpaste, tooth powder kumkum & soap.” Delhi Tribunal in the case of, Parsons Brinckerhoff India (P.) Ltd.
- Noscitur a sociis cannot prevail in case where it is clear that the wider words have been deliberately used in order to make the scope of the defined word correspondingly wider.
- It can also be applied where the meaning of the words of wider meaning import is doubtful; but, where the object of the Legislature in using wider words is clear and free from ambiguity, the rule of construction cannot be applied.
- This doctrine is broader than the doctrine of ejusdem generis because this rule puts the words in context of the whole phrase and not just in relation to the nearby words.
- The language of the phrase can be used as a guide to arrive at the true meaning of the word.
This rule is illustrated in Foster v Diphwys Casson (1887) 18 QBD 428, involving a statute which stated that explosives taken into a mine must be in a “case or canister”. Here the defendant used a cloth bag. The courts had to consider whether a cloth bag was within the definition.
Under Noscitur a sociis, it was held that the bag could not have been within the statutory definition, because parliament’s intention was referring to a case or container of the same strength as a canister. In State of Assam vs R Muhammad AIR 1967, SC made use of this rule to arrive at the meaning of the word “posting” used in Article 233 (1) of the Constitution.
It held that since the word “posting” occurs in association with the words “appointment” and “promotion”, it took its colour from them and so it means “assignment of an appointee or a promotee to a position” and does not mean transfer of a person from one station to another.
- Further, this rule can only be used when the associated words have analogous meaning.
- It cannot be used when the words have disjoint meanings,
- For example, in the case of Lokmat Newspapers vs Shankarprasad AIR 1999, it was held that the words “discharge” and “dismissal” do not have the same analogous meaning and so this rule cannot be applied.2.
Ejusdem Generis – When a list of two or more specific descriptors are followed by more general descriptors, the otherwise wide meaning of the general descriptors must be restricted to the same class, if any, of the specific words that precede them e.g.
- Vehicles in “cars, motorbikes, motor powered vehicles” would be interpreted in a limited sense and therefore cannot be interpreted as including air planes.
- The ejusdem generis, or ‘of the same genus’ rule, is similar though narrower than the more general rule of noscitur a sociis.
- According to this rule, when particular words pertaining to a class or a genus are followed by general words, the general words are construed as limited to the things of the same kind as those specified by the class or the genus.
The meaning of an expression with wider meaning is limited to the meaning of the preceeding specific expressions.
- However, for this rule to apply, the preceeding words must for a specific class or genus.
- Further, this rule cannot be applied in the words with a wider meaning appear before the words with specific or narrow meaning.
- In UP State Electricity Board vs Harishankar, AIR 1979, SC held that the following conditions must exist for the application of this rule –
- 1. The statue contains an enumeration of specific words
- 2. The subject of the enumeration constitute a class or a category
- 3. The class or category is not exhausted by the enumeration
- 4. A general term is present at the end of the enumeration
- 5. There is no indication of a different legislative intent
Justice Hidayatullah explained the principles of this rule through the following example – In the expression, “books, pamphlets, newspapers, and other documents”, private letters may not be held included if “other documents” be interpreted ejusdem generis with what goes before.
But in a provision which reads, “newspapers or other documents likely to convey secrets to the enemy”, the words “other documents” would include documents of any kind and would not take their meaning from newspaper. This was also illustrated in the case of Ishwar Singh Bagga vs State of Rajasthan 1987, where the words “other person”, in the expression “any police officer authorized in this behalf or any other person authorized in this behalf by the State government” in Section 129 of Motor Vehicles Act, were held not to be interpreted ejusdem generis because the mention of a single species of “police officers” does not constitute a genus.
It can be seen that this rule is an exception to the rule of construction that general words should be given their full and natural meaning. It is a canon of construction like many other rules that are used to understand the intention of the legislature.
- This rule also covers The rank principle, which goes as follows – Where a string of items of a certain rank or level is followed by general residuary words, it is presumed that the residuary words are not intended to include items of a higher rank than those specified.
- By specifying only items of lower rank the impression is created that higher ranks are not intended to be covered.
If they were, then their mention would be expected a fortiori. For example, the phrase “tradesman, artificer, workman, labourer, or other person whatsoever” was held not to include persons above the artisan class. Similarly, the phrase “copper, brass, pewter, and tin, and all other metals” in a local Act of 1825 was held not to include precious metals such as gold and silver.3.
- Reddendo Singula Singulis – When a list of words has a modifying phrase at the end, the phrase refers only to the last word, e.g., firemen, policemen, and doctors in a hospital.
- Here, “in a hospital” only applies to doctors and not to firemen or policemen.
- The reddendo singula singulis principle concerns the use of words distributively.
Where a complex sentence has more than one subject, and more than one object, it may be the right construction to render each to each, by reading the provision distributively and applying each object to its appropriate subject. A similar principle applies to verbs and their subjects, and to other parts of speech.
- A typical application of this principle is where a testator says ‘I devise and bequeath all my real and personal property to B’.
- The term devise is appropriate only to real property.
- The term bequeath is appropriate only to personal property.
- Accordingly, by the application of the principle reddendo singular singulis, the testamentary disposition is read as if it were worded ‘I devise all my real property, and bequeath all my personal property, to B’.
This rule has been applied in the case of Koteshwar Vittal Kamatvs K Rangappa Baliga, AIR 1969, in the construction of the Proviso to Article 304 of the Constitution which reads, “Provided that no bill or amendment for the purpose of clause (b), shall be introduced or moved in the legislature of a state without the previous sanction of the President”.
- It was held that the word introduced applies to bill and moved applies to amendment,
- Conclusion Every nation has its own judicial system, the purpose of which to grant justice to all.
- The court aims to interpret the law in such a manner that every citizen is ensured justice to all.
- To ensure justice to all the concept of canons of interpretation was expounded.
These are the rules which are evolved for determining the real intention of the legislature. It is not necessary that the words used in a statute are always clear, explicit and unambiguous and thus, in such cases it is very essential for courts to determine a clear and explicit meaning of the words or phrases used by the legislature and at the same time remove all the doubts if any.
- Hence, all the rules mentioned in the article are important for providing justice On the basis of the above description of the rules of interpretation, it can rightly be concluded that the above rules of interpretation are like the tools of carpenter or sculptor.
- To a great extent their value depends on the fact that with what care or skill they are used.
Actually, it depends upon the wisdom and care which the judges take in interpreting the statutes by applying the above rules of interpretation.
- “May’, ‘shall’ and ‘must”
- The words ‗may‘, ‗shall‘ and ‗must‘ should initially be deemed to have been used in their natural and ordinary sense.
- May signifies permission and implies that the authority has been allowed discretion.
- In state of UP v Jogendra Singh, the Supreme Court observed that “there is no doubt that the word ‘may’ generally does not mean ‘must’ or ‘shall’.
But it is well settled that the word ‘may’ is capable of meaning ‘must’ or ‘shall’ in the light of context. It is also clear that when a discretion is conferred upon a public authority coupled with an obligation, the word ‘may’ should be construed to mean a command (Smt.
Sudir Bala Roy v West Bengal). ‘May’ will have compulsory force if a requisite condition has to be filled. Cotton L.J observed that ‘May’ can never mean ‘must’ but when any authority or body has a power to it by the word ‘May’ it becomes its duty to exercise that power. ‘Shall’ in the normal sense imports command.
It is well settled that the use of the word ‘shall’ does not always mean that the enactment is obligatory or mandatory. It depends upon the context in which the word ‘shall’ occurs and the other circumstances. Unless an interpretation leads to some absurd or inconvenient consequences or contradicts with the intent of the legislature the court shall interpret the word ‘shall’ in mandatory sense.
- ‘Must’- is doubtlessly a word of command.
- Specific Terminologies
- 99% of negative terms are mandatory; affirmative terms are mostly mandatory where guiding principle for vesting of powers depends on context.
In procedural statutes both negative and affirmative are mandatory. Aids to construction for determination of the character of words can be used.
- The author-CA (Adv.) Sikander Sachdeva, FCA is a Chartered Accountant in Practice from Delhi and can be contacted for any suggestions, rectifications, amendments and/or further clarifications in regard of this article at
- 8882370570 or via mail at [email protected]
The contents of this document are solely for informational purpose. It does not constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation. The document is made with utmost professional caution but in no manner guarantees the content for use by any person.
It is suggested to go through original statute / notification / circular / pronouncements before relying on the matter given. The document is meant for general guidance and no responsibility for loss arising to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material contained in this document will be accepted by us.
Professional advice recommended to be sought before any action or refrainment : Brief regarding Rules of Interpretation of statutes
What are the principles of statutory construction?
What does the Supreme Court say? – For your better understanding, the Supreme Court’s statement in the case of Chavez vs. Judicial and Bar Council, G.R. No.202242, July 17, 2012 is considered. It says that: “One of the primary and basic rules in statutory construction is that.
- Where the words of a statute are clear, plain, and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation.” To repeat, the basic rule of construction is to apply the law when it is clear.
- When the law is not clear, you interpret it with the use of intrinsic aids.
Then, if interpretation is not enough, you construe the law with the use of extrinsic aids. We hope that you learned something in this lesson. Also, the team is thanking all those who liked and followed our Facebook page as well as our YouTube subscribers.
What is the difference between legal and beneficial title?
Land can be owned in two ways: legal ownership, giving the right to the legal interest in the land, and beneficial ownership, giving the right to a beneficial interest in the property. The legal owner of a property is the person who owns the legal title of the land, whereas the beneficial owner is the person who is entitled to the benefits of the property.
What is a beneficial interest in law?
Definition of beneficial interest – A beneficial interest is an interest in land that gives a person a financial share in a property and/or a right to occupy a property. There are three different ways in which a beneficial interest can arise:
by express declaration of interests by resulting trust by constructive trust
Family mediation can help a separating couple to reach an agreement about the interest of the partner who doesn’t own the home without going to court. If it is not possible for the couple to come to an agreement, and there is no express declaration of interests (see below), the partner can apply to the court for a declaration of the nature of the trust between them.
What are the rules of construction in case of any ambiguity in beneficial statute?
While constructing a provision in penal statute if there appears to be a reasonable doubt or ambiguity, it shall be resolved in favour of person who would be liable to penalty. If a penal provision can reasonably be so interpreted as to avoid the punishment, it must be so construed.
What is the difference between interpretation and construction?
Construction intends to bring it to a conclusion. Interpretation is used to determine the linguistic meaning of a legal text. The legal impact of the legislative text can be ascertained through construction. Ambiguity is removed by interpretation.
Which is an example of a statute?
A statute is a law enacted by a legislature. Statutes are also called acts, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Federal laws must be passed by both houses of Congress, the House of Representative and the Senate, and then usually require approval from the president before they can take effect.
- As explained by the Library of Congress, enacted federal statutes are published multiple times.
- First, each individual law is published as a “slip law.” Then, all of the slip laws for each session of Congress are published together as “session laws.” Finally, all laws that are of a “general and permanent nature” are eventually compiled into the United States Code, and also the Revised Statutes of the United States.
State statutes can be found through this list, Readers can also attempt to find state statutes organized by topic here,
What is an example of harmonious?
A harmonious relationship, agreement, or discussion is friendly and peaceful. Their harmonious relationship resulted in part from their similar goals. It is a harmonious community where pupils are happy and industrious.
What is harmonious construction in statue?
Doctrine of Harmonious Construction In The Interpretation Of Statutes ” No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding. ” – Plato Every individual living in a society understands the value of law. Law may be understood as a tool to keep the society peaceful and problem free and to prevent conflicts between people by regulating their behaviour.
The laws enacted to regulate the society are drafted by legal experts and it can very well be anticipated that many of the laws enacted will not be specific and will contain ambiguous words and expressions. Quite often we find that the Courts and lawyers are busy in unfolding the meaning of such words and expressions and in resolving inconsistencies.
All this has led to the formulation of certain Rules of Interpretation of Statutes. We are all aware that the Government has three wings, namely, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The Role of Interpretation of Statutes comes into play and is of utmost importance for the Judiciary to render Justice correctly by interpreting the Statutes in the way the situation demands.
- Doctrine of Harmonious Construction
- Meaning of the Doctrine of Harmonious Construction
- Origin Of Doctrine Of Harmonious Construction
The Parliament makes a separate set of Statutes, Rules and Legislation as well as constitutional provisions under their well-defined powers. While the framing of these provisions has to be done very carefully, conflict still occurs sometimes due to overlapping in their enforcement.
This is because there are chances of certain gaps being left while framing of these provisions, which could not have been forseen by Legislators. To deal with such conflicts, certain Doctrines and Rules are propounded by Courts that are used in the Interpretation of Statutes. One such Rule of Interpretation is the Doctrine of Harmonious Construction.
When there is a conflict between two or more Statues or two or more parts of a Statute then the Rule of Harmonious Construction needs to be adopted. Every Statute has a purpose and intent as per Law and should be read as a whole. While using the Harmonious Rule the Interpretation should be consistent with all the provisions of the Statute.
- In the case in which it shall be impossible to harmonize both the provisions, the Court’s decision regarding the provision shall prevail.
- The basis of Principle of Harmonious Construction probably is that the Legislature must not have intended to contradict itself.
- The intention of Legislature is that every provision should remain operative.
But when two provisions are contradictory, it may not possible to effectuate both of them and in result, one will be rendered futile as against the settled basic principle of ut res magis valeat qauam pereat. Therefore, such a construction should be allowed to prevail by which existing inconsistency is removed and both the provisions remain in force, in harmony with each other.
- The Doctrine of Harmonious Construction is considered as the thumb Tule to the Rule of Interpretation of Statutes.
- The Doctrine states: “Whenever there is a case of conflict between two or more Statutes or between two or more parts or provisions of a Statute, then the Statute has to be interpreted upon harmonious construction.
It signifies that in case of inconsistencies, proper harmonization is to be done between the conflicting parts so that one part does not defeat the purpose of another.” The Doctrine of Harmonious Construction is based on a cardinal principle in law that every statute has been formulated with a specific purpose and intention and thereby should be read as a whole.
The normal presumption is that what the Parliament has given by one hand is not sought to be taken away from another. The essence is to give effect to both the provisions. To avoid conflict, the adopted Interpretation of the Statute should be consistent with all its provisions. If there seems an impossibility to harmoniously construe or reconcile the parts/provision, then the matter rests with the Judiciary to decide and give its final Judgment.
The aim of the Courts is to do interpretation in a manner that it resolves the repugnancy between the provisions and enables the Statute to become consistent as a whole and read accordingly. The Doctrine of Harmonious Construction was established as a result of Court Interpretations of a variety of cases.
- The Doctrine’s creation can be traced all the way back to the first amendment to the Constitution of India, with the landmark Judgment of,
- The disagreement between Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution of India was the subject of the case.
The Court used the Harmonious Construction Rule to hold that Fundamental Rights, which are rights granted against the State, may be revoked under certain circumstances and modified by Parliament to bring them into compliance with constitutional provisions.
Both were given preference, and it was determined that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are just two sides of the same coin that must be worked together for the greater good. This theory was developed historically through the law of conciliation, which was first proposed in the case of C.
P and Berar General Clauses Act, 1914. The Court used this Rule of Interpretation to prevent any overlap or confusion between entries 24 & 25 of the State List, and to read them in a logical order by deciding the scope of the subjects in question. The Principles Of Doctrine Of Harmonious Construction According to the Doctrine Of Harmonious Construction, a Statute should be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.
- The Courts must avoid a head on clash of seemingly contradicting provisions and they must construe the contradictory provisions so as to harmonize them.,
- The provision of one section cannot be used to defeat the provision contained in another unless the Court, despite all its effort, is unable to find a way to reconcile their differences.
- When it is impossible to completely reconcile the differences in contradictory provisions, the Courts must interpret them in such as way so that effect is given to both the provisions as much as possible.,
- Courts must also keep in mind that interpretation that reduces one provision to a useless number or dead is not harmonious construction.
- To harmonize is not to destroy any statutory provision or to render it fruitless.
A familiar approach in all such cases is to find out which of the two apparently conflicting provisions is more general and which is more specific and to construe the more general one so as to exclude the more specific. The question as to the relative nature of the provisions, general or special, has to be determined with reference to the area and extent of their application either generally or specially in particular situations.
- This principle is expressed in the maxims Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant, and Generalia Specialibus Derogant,
- The former means that general things do not derogate from special things and the latter means that special things derogate from general things.
- The Rule of harmonious construction can also be used for resolving a conflict between a provision in the Act and a Rule made under the Act.
Further this principle is also used to resolve a conflict between two different Acts and in the making of statutory Rules Orders. But in case there are two remedies for a situation, one general and one specific, and both are inconsistent with each other, they continue to hold good for the concerned person to choose from, until he elects one of them.
- Giving maximum force to both clauses thus reducing their inconsistency and/or dispute.
- Both clauses that are inherently contradictory or repugnant to one another must be read as a whole, and the entire enactment must be considered.
- Choose the one with the broader reach of the two contrasting clauses.
- Compare the broad and narrow provisions, and then try to analyze the broad law to see if there are any other consequences. No further investigation is needed if the result is as fair as harmonizing both clauses and giving them full force separately. One thing to keep in mind is that the legislature, when enacting the provisions, was well aware of the situation that they were attempting to address, and thus all provisions adopted must be given full effect on scope.
- A non-obstante clause must be used when one provision of an Act strips away powers conferred by another Act.
- It is critical that the Court determine the degree to which the legislature wanted to grant one clause overriding authority over another. In, it was decided that if two opposing sections could not be reconciled, the last section would take precedence. This isn’t a universal law, though.
Landmark Judgments on Doctrine Of Harmonious Construction In, the Supreme Court applied the Rule of harmonious construction in resolving a conflict between Articles 25 (2)(b) and 26 (b) of the Constitution of India and it was held that the right of every religious denomination or any section thereof to manage its own affairs in matters of religion is subject to a law made by a State providing for social welfare and reform or throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus,
In, the same Rule was applied to resolve the conflict between Articles 19 (1)(a) and 194 (3) of the Constitution of India and it was held that the right of freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) is the read as subject to powers, privileges and immunities of a House of the Legislature which are those of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom as declared by the latter part of Article 194 (3).
But, with regard to the above Judgment, in Special Reference No.1 of 1964, it was decided that Article 194 (3) is subordinate to Articles 21, 32, 211 and 226 of the Constitution of India. This conclusion was also reached by recourse to the Rule of Harmonious Construction, more particularly as under: “All the four clauses of Art.194 are not in terms made subject to the provisions contained in Part III.
In fact, cl. (2) is couched in such wide terms that in exercising the rights conferred on them by cl. (1), if the legislators by their speeches contravene any of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III, they would not be liable for any action in any Court. Nevertheless, if for other valid considerations, it appears that the contents of cl.
(3) may not exclude the applicability of certain relevant provisions of the Constitution, it would not be reasonable to suggest that those provisions must be ignored just because the said clause does not open with the words subject to the other provisions of the Constitution,
- In dealing with the effect of the provisions contained in cl.
- 3) of Art.194, wherever it appears that there is a conflict between the said provisions and the provisions pertaining to fundamental rights, an attempt will have to be made to resolve the said conflict by the adoption of the rule of harmonous construction.” The Oriental Gas Company Act was passed by the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1960.
Under this Act, the Respondent attempted to take over the control of the Gas Company. The Appellant argued that the State Legislative Assembly lacked the authority to pass such legislation under Entries 24 & 25 of the State List since the Parliament had already passed the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, which dealt with industries under Entry 52 of the Central List.
- The Supreme Court noted that with so many subjects in three lists in the Constitution of India, there is bound to be some overlap, and it is the responsibility of the Courts in such situations to harmonise them, if possible, so that each of them can have effect.
- The State List’s Entry 24 includes all of the State’s Industries.
Only the Gas Industry is qualified for Entry 25. As a result, Entry 24 encompasses all industries except the gas industry, which is explicitly protected under Entry 25. Entry 52 in the Union List corresponds to Entry 24 in the State List. As a result, it became apparent that the Gas Industry was solely protected by Entry 25 of the State List, over which the State has complete influence.
- As a result, the State had complete authority to enact legislation in this region.
- According to the Supreme Court separating Education in two Lists under the Head Of Medium Of Instruction to Parliament and Education dehors to State, is not reasonable.
- The Medium Of Instruction related to specific Universities is also provided under the Union List, Entry 66 and that Entry has enabled Parliament to make Laws to improve standards of Education and provide financial assistance to Backward Universities but under Entry 11 of State Law, State can make Law for imparting Education.
Therefore, the Harmonious Construction was invoked and it was found that Parliament has specific competence over the subject and State has the general competence. Therefore, it was held that Parliamentary Law should prevail and the University did not confer the power to impose any language as Medium Of Instruction and examination.
An intriguing question involving a conflict between two equally mandatory provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, namely Sections 17 (1) and 18 (1), is a good example of the significance of the concept that any attempt should be made to give effect to all of an Act’s provisions by harmonizing every apparent conflict between two or more of them.
Section 17 (1) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 requires the Government to publish any award of a Labour Tribunal within thirty days of receipt, and Section 17 (2) of the Act states that the award becomes final upon publication. A contract between an employer and employees is binding on the parties to the arrangement, according to Section 18 (1) of the Act.
- In a situation where a settlement was reached after the Government received a Labour Tribunal Award but before it was released, the issue was whether the Government was indeed obliged to report the Award under Section 17 (1).
- The Supreme Court held that the only way to address the conflict was to hold that the Industrial Dispute ends with the settlement, which becomes valid from the date of signing, and the Award becomes infructuous, and the Government cannot publish it.
The Commissioner sanctioned criminal prosecution of the Respondent partners in this case under Section 46 (1) (c) of the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958, after the assessee failed to pay the Sales Tax despite repeated demands. The Respondent argued that the Act had two separate Sections, namely Section 22 (4–A) and Section 46 (1)(c), in which two different procedures for realizing the amount due were prescribed, but that there was no provision of law that could say which provision should be enforced in which case.
- The provision prescribed under Section 46 (1)(c), according to the Supreme Court, was more serious.
- The inference drawn from the harmonious construction of these two clauses was that the Commissioner had Judicial discretion in deciding which procedure to follow in which case.
- The Court has the authority to interfere if the Commissioner fails to act Judicially.
However, in this situation, the Commissioner was right in deciding that the more severe procedure under Section 46 (1)(c) needed to be used because the assesse company had failed to pay Sales Tax despite the Sales Tax Officer’s repeated demands. The Supreme Court decided that where there is a conflict between two provisions, their harmony should be tried to establish between them.
- Read the complete Statute or Rules as a whole, and
- Read the complete statute or rules as a whole, and
- Any Rule should not be construed to make the other Rule ineffective.
“It is a cardinal principal of construction of a Statute or the Statutory Rule that efforts should be made in construing the different provisions, so that, each provision will have its play and in the event of any conflict a Harmonious Construction should be given, Further a Statute or a Rule made thereunder should be read as a whole and one provision should be construed with reference to the other provision so as to make the Rule consistent and any construction which would bring any inconsistency or repugnancy between one provision and the other should be avoided.
One Rule cannot be used to defeat another Rule in the same Rules unless it is impossible to effect harmonisation between them. The well-known Principle of Harmonious Construction is that effect should be given to all the provisions, and therefore, this Court had held in several cases that a construction that reduces one of the provisions to a ‘dead letter’ is not a harmonious construction as one part is being destroyed and consequently court should avoid such a construction.” In, the Supreme Court held that Statutes opposing provisions but with same subject matter have to be read together.
It was held that a cardinal principle of construction is that the provisions of the notification have to be harmoniously construed as to prevent any conflict with the provisions of the Statute. In, the Apex Court held that the provisions of Statute must be read harmoniously together.
Where this is not possible and there is irreconcilable conflict between two Sections, it must be determined which provision is leading provision and which provision is subordinate provision and that which one must give way to the other. Conclusion Legislation is written by Legislators, and there is always the risk of uncertainty, contradictions, inconsistencies, absurdities, hardships, repugnancy, duplication, and other issues.
In such cases, the Laws of Statute Interpretation apply, and the provisions are construed to give them the most effect and to make Justice to the situation at hand. In reading laws, the concept of Harmonious Construction is very important and is used in a lot of situations.
- It aids in the clarification of complex problems and facilitates the delivery of decisions.
- As a result, the value of the law of Harmonious Construction is recognized and felt by the Judiciary, just as it is by many other laws of application of Statutes.
- ‘The administration of Justice is the firmest foundation of the Nation,’ George Washington rightly said.
As a result, in accordance with this philosophy, the Judiciary should correctly interpret Statutes and intelligently enforce the Rules for Interpreting Statutes in order to provide prompt Justice to the people of the country. The Judiciary is held to be an independent body, which acts as the Supreme source of Justice to the people.
- Therefore, it is expected that the task of statutory interpretation is performed with utmost care and caution.
- The Courts are under a sole discretion to Interpret the Statutes in its own and appropriate way to render Justice to the people so that the Legislature’s real intention behind making the law could be established accordingly.
The Interpretation of every provision is always not under the words and expressions that it includes and differs in nature as well due to which it depends on the Courts to adopt the appropriate meaning of the provision in question to avoid ambiguity.
- There is no need to interpret laws when the literal meaning of specific provisions is clear and unambiguous.
- Still, the necessity arises when the circumstances are otherwise, and the Courts need to apply the Rule of Interpretation in the most effective way.
- Therefore, the Doctrines help the Court to interpret specific provisions according to its requirement.
Among which, the Principle of Harmonious Construction has been dealt with in the following article in an elaborate manner, highlighting the fact that it reduces conflicts between two or more provisions and helps to adopt the provision of broader scope rendering Justice to the people.
What is harmonious construction in IOS?
What is doctrine of harmonious construction? Answer at BYJU’S IAS According to this doctrine, a provision of the statute should not be interpreted or construed in isolation but as a whole, so as to remove any inconsistency or repugnancy. The courts must avoid a clash on contradicting provisions and they must construe the opposing provisions so as to harmonize them.
The objective of harmonious construction is to avoid any confrontation between two enacting provisions of a statute and to construe the provisions in such a way so that the harmonize. The basis of this rule is that the Legislature never envisages to provide two conflicting provisions in a statute, for the reason that it amounts to self-contradiction. The real legislative intent, that we try to discover in the process of interpretation cannot be to provide for something in one provision and deny the same in subsequent one. Hence, even if an inconsistency is found, the same should be considered to be unintentional and as such, is required to be cured by way of harmonious construction.
Further Reading: : What is doctrine of harmonious construction? Answer at BYJU’S IAS