The ‘ut res magis valeat quam pereat’ ( Rule of Reasonable Construction ) implies that a statute must be construed reasonably. A statute or any enacting provision therein must be so construed as to make it effective and operative.
- 1 What is meant by ut res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat?
- 2 What are the principles and presumptions of the maxim ut res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat Maxim?
- 3 What do you mean by construction in bonam Partem?
- 4 What is literal golden and mischief rule of construction?
- 5 What is the doctrine of effective construction?
- 6 How many types of construction are there name and define them?
- 7 What is mischief rule of construction?
- 8 What is rule of reasonable construction?
- 9 What does the golden rule of statutory interpretation mean?
What is meant by ut res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat?
Legal Maxim Search Dictionary 21 Record(s) | Page U
uberrimae fides : Of the utmost good faith; of the fullest confidence ubi aliquid conceditur, conceditur et id sine quo res ipsa esse non potest : Where anything is granted, that is also granted without which the thing itself is not able to exist. Applying maxim, the Supreme Court in State of Karnataka v. Vishwabarathi Housing Co-op. Society 113 Comp. Cas.536, observed :— “Every Court must be deemed to possess by necessary intendment all such powers as are necessary to make its orders effective.” ubi eadem ratio ibi idem lex et de similibus idem est judicium : Where the same reason exists, there the same law prevails, and of things similar, the judgment is similar ubi jus ibi officium : Where there is a right, there is a duty ubi jus ibi remedium : Where there is a right, there is a remedy ubi jus incertum, ibi jus nullum : Where one’s right is uncertain, no right exists ubi remedium, ibi jus : Where there is remedy, there is a right ubi supra : In the place of above (mentioned) ubique : Everywhere ultima voluntas testatoris est perimplenda secundum veram intentionem suam : Effect is to be given to the last will of a testator according to his true intention ultimus haeres : In law, the State which succeeds to the property of those who die intestate or without next of him. ultra vires : Beyond one’s power, or authority universitas : A corporate body uno amino : With one mind uno flatu : With one breath usufruct : Produce or fruit of the principal thing; issues or profits arising from something ut infra : As cited below ut lite pendente nihil innovetur : During a litigation nothing new should be introduced. The doctrine of lis pendens expressed in the maxim ‘ut lite pendente nihil innovetur’ has been statutorily incorporated in section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. A defendant cannot, by alienating property during pendency of litigation, venture into depriving the successful plaintiff of the fruits of decree. The transferee pendente lite is treated in the eye of law as representative-in-interest of the judgment debtor and held bound by the decree passed against the judgment-debtor though neither the defendant has chosen to bring the transferee on record by apprising his opponent and the Court of the transfer made by him nor the transferee has chosen to come on record by taking recourse to order 22 Rule 10 of the CPC 15 ILD 137 (SC)] ut res magis valeat quam pereat : It is better for a thing to have effect than to be made void, i.e., it is better to validate a thing than to invalidate it. A statute is supposed to be an authentic repository of the legislative will and the function of a court is to interpret it “according to the intent of them that made it.” From that function the court is not to resile, it has to abide by the maxim ut res magis valeat quam pereat, lest the intention of the Legislature may go in vain or be left to evaporate in thin air. (See CST v. Mangal Sen Shyam Lal AIR 1975 SC 1106.) The court should as far as possible avoid that construction which attributes irrationality to the Legislature. It must obviously prefer a construction which renders the statutory provision constitutionally valid rather than that which makes it void. (K.P. Varghese v. ITO 131 ITR 597 (SC)and State of Punjab v. Prem Sukhdas 3 SCR 403.) It is because the Legislature is presumed to enact a law, which does not contravene or violate the constitutional provisions, (M.K. Balakrishnan Menon v. ACED 83 ITR 162 (SC).) and is presumed not to have intended an excess of is own jurisdiction. (CWT v. Smt. Hasmatunnisa Begum 42 Taxman 133 (SC).) The rule is well-settled that a construction which imputes to the Legislature tautology or superfluity in the use of language must as far as possible, be avoided. The Court should always prefer a construction which will give some meaning and effect to the words used by the Legislature, rather than that which will reduce it to futility. (CIT v.R.M. Amin 106 ITR 368 (SC), Addl. CIT v. Surat Art Silk Cloth Mfrs. Association 121 ITR 1 (SC).) A construction which renders any provision in the Act nugatory and defeats the object of the provision, is avoided, (CIT v.S. Teja Singh 35 ITR 408 (SC).) even though the language of the statute suffers from a slight inexactitude. Thus when a harmonious construction is possible which furthers the objects of the Act, the same is preferred to a construction which leads to a conflict between the two provisions in the Act. (CWT v. Yuvraj Amrinder Singh 156 ITR 525 (SC).) Interpretation of machinery provision should be such as to makes it workable. (CIT v. Mahaliram Ramjidas 8 ITR 442 (PC).) All parts of a section should be construed together and every clause thereof with reference to the context and other clauses thereof so that the construction put on that particular provision makes a consistent enactment of the whole statute. (CIT v. National Taj Traders 121 ITR 535 (SC).) No part of the statute can just be ignored by saying that the Legislature enacted the same not knowing what it was saying. It is to be assumed that the Legislature deliberately used that expression and it intended to convey the same meaning. (CIT v. Distributors (Baroda) (P.) Ltd.83 ITR 377 (SC).) Words used by Parliament must be given their ordinary meaning. (CIT v. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry 130 ITR 186 (SC).) The doctrine of ut res magis valeat quam pereat is also applicable in the interpretation of an instrument, document or deed. The interpretation which upholds its validity should be preferred. (See Ram Laxman Sugar Mills v. CIT 66 ITR 613 (SC).) A deed has to be read as a whole and effect is given to all its parts, unless a part of the deed is so inconsistent with rest of it that no effect can be given to it. The law intends to save the deed if possible. This is sometimes expressed in the maxim ut res magis valeat quam pereat. If by a reasonable construction, the intention of the parties can be arrived at and that intention carried out consistently with the rule of law, the court will take that course. (See Narayan Prasad Vijaivargiya v. CIT 102 ITR 748 (Cal.).) This doctrine, however, cannot be pushed so far as to alter the meaning of the clear words used in an enactment and to, in effect, repeal statutory provisions, by making these useless without holding them void. (State of Punjab v. Prem Sukhdas 3 SCR 403.) Likewise if the words of the statute on a proper construction can be read only in a particular way, then it cannot be read in another way by a court of construction anxious to avoid its unconstitutionality. (See CWT v. Smt. Hasmatunnisa Begum 42 Taxman 133 (SC).) ut supra : As below
© Copyright. Taxmann Publications Pvt. Ltd.
What are the principles and presumptions of the maxim ut res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat Maxim?
This article is authored by Nidhi Bajaj, of Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab. The article will take you through the meaning, basis and application of the important principle/maxim of interpretation of statutes, namely, ‘ut res magis valeat quam pereat’.
Unless the words were so absolutely senseless that I could do nothing at all with them, I should be bound to find some meaning, and not to declare them void for uncertainty ” – Farwell J. The maxim ‘ut res magis valeat quam pereat’ is an important principle of interpretation of statutes which literally means: “It may rather become operative than null”.
The effect of this maxim is that an enacting provision or a statute has to be so construed to make it effective and operative. Without any delay, let us dive into the meaning and other important aspects of this legal maxim. As mentioned above, the maxim ‘ut res magis valeat quam pereat’ means that it is better for a thing to have an effect than for it to become void. While interpreting any provision, the courts should not lean towards a construction that renders any provision or the statute void or futile.
A statute should not be declared void for sheer vagueness. When the courts embark on interpreting a provision, the first and foremost necessity is that the law survives. While pronouncing upon the constitutionality of a statute, the courts must start with the presumption in favor of its constitutionality.The true interpretation of a provision or a statute is one that is in accordance with the intention of the legislature. The intention of the legislature cannot be otherwise than to give effect to all the provisions of the statute for achieving the object for which the law was enacted. Adopting an interpretation by which any provision is rendered inoperative or unworkable will be adverse to the legislative intent. The courts are to interpret the law and the making and repealing of legislation is the exclusive domain of the legislature. In such circumstances, any interpretation by which any provision or statute turns futile amounts to a rejection of law and that is not within the jurisdiction of courts. Courts can strike down a law on the ground of unconstitutionality but the courts cannot introduce any vagueness or unconstitutionality in a provision by adopting a peculiar construction or construing a provision in a particular manner.
What is rule of literal construction?
The Literal Rule means that the words need to be interpreted in the strict ordinary meaning and the scope of words should not be considered more than its ordinary meaning. The words are to be understood in their ordinary and natural meaning unless the object of the statute suggests otherwise4.
What is doctrine 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 do you mean by construction in bonam Partem?
CONSTRUCTION OF WORDS IN BONAM PARTEM : Interpretation of law depends on distinction between malice and good will, truth and deceit, words uttered in Bonam Partem and Malam Partem, but is wholly incapable of generating the rules of distinction between the same.
What is literal golden and mischief rule of construction?
Meaning and use – In Conway v Rimmer it was observed that judges can apply in statutory interpretation in order to discover Parliament’s intention. In applying the rule, the court is essentially asking what the mischief was that the previous law did not cover, which Parliament was seeking to remedy when it passed the law now being reviewed by the court.
- The mischief rule is of narrower application than the golden rule or the plain meaning rule, in that it can only be used to interpret a statute and, strictly speaking, only when the statute was passed to remedy a defect in the common law.
- Legislative intent is determined by examining secondary sources, such as committee reports, treatises, law review articles and corresponding statutes.
The application of this rule gives the judge more discretion than the literal and the golden rule as it allows Parliament’s intent to be taken into consideration. The way in which the mischief rule can produce more sensible outcomes than those that would result if the literal rule were applied is illustrated by the ruling in Smith v Hughes 2 All E.R.859.
Which of the following is internal aid for interpretation of statutes Mcq?
Internal Aids to Construction under of Interpretation of Statutes Image source – https://bit.ly/3c5tw1A This article is written by Shiva Satiya from Panjab University. An ‘Aid’ is a device that helps or assists. While performing the function of interpreting provision of a statute, the court can take help from within the statute or even outside the statute.
What is rule of liberal construction?
1. Distinction Between Strict and Liberal Construction of Statute – Strict Construction means each of the words in Statute should be interpreted by letter, and no regard should be had to the spirit beyond the statute. Liberal or beneficial Construction means the interpretation should be made liberally with the intention to advance the purpose or object of the statute.
Thus, in the case of strict interpretation, Courts may prefer the literal rule while liberal construction courts may prefer the golden rule or mischief rule. Generally, taxing and penal statutes are strictly construed while beneficial or benevolent legislation like ESI, Contract Labour Act or P.E should be liberally construed.
Even in the case of taxing statutes, beneficial provisions should be liberally construed. In the State of Jharkhand v. Ambay Cements (2005) 1 SCC 368 = 178 ELT 55 = 139 STC 74 = 2004 AIR SCW 6703 (SC 3 member bench), it was held as follows, ‘(a) Provision of exemption should be strictly construed.
It is not open to Court to ignore the conditions prescribed in the exemption notification (b) Mandatory rule must be strictly followed, while substantial compliance might suffice in a directory rule (c) Whenever the statute prescribed that a particular act is to be done in a particular manner and also lays down that failure to comply with the said requirement leads to severe consequences, such requirement is mandatory (d) It is the cardinal rule of the interpretation that where a statute provides that a particular thing should be done, it should be done in the manner prescribed and not in any other way (e) Where a statute is penal in character, it must be strictly construed and followed – quoted with approval in CCE v.
Emkay Investments 2004 (174) ELT 298 (SC 3 member bench).
What is golden rule of construction?
The golden rule of interpretation and construction is important because enables the judge to modify the meaning of terms that have an absurd or anomalous interpretation. Doing so ensures that the aptest meaning is applied to the case at hand and any kind of absurdity is removed.
What is the doctrine of effective construction?
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
What are the strict construction and penal construction of statutes?
Radhyshyam v. Mewalal, (1929) – The Allahabad High Court ruled that the Excise Act should be interpreted strictly and constructed liberally in the public interest. The term “strict construction” refers to a statute that is strictly construed in legislation.
- Each word must be interpreted by letters, and the interpretation must not exceed the scope of the legislation.
- It is a legal theory that applies in a narrow manner or in a strict manner of interpretation to legal legislation such as the United States Constitution.
- The bench’s ability to read a text in written form that is provided inside the four boundaries of a legal document must be evaluated.
The constitution must be rigorously construed in its original meaning. This form of construction is used in taxation and criminal legislation. In strict construction interpretation, the courts refer to the literal rule. The literal rule, alternatively known as the simple rule, is a traditional rule used by English courts.
It is a guideline of law interpretation that in the first instance, the grammatical interpretation of words must be followed. This is the earliest construction rule to which judges refer when referring to strict construction. Even today, judges utilize it since they do not have the authority to make laws.
In each and every system of interpretation, it is the primary and first interpretation of laws. In other words, it’s just what the law says rather than what the law was meant to express. The term “strict construction” refers to “a close or narrow reading and interpretation of a legislation or written document.” In cases involving a dispute over terms of legal meaning, the bench is sometimes called upon to determine a construction or interpretation of an ambiguous or confusing phrase.
The common law tradition has created a number of maxims and guidelines that help courts interpret legislation or agreements such as contracts. Strict construction occurs when ambiguous legal language is treated as an accurate and precise interpretation and no further fair evaluations or justifiable consequences are considered.
When interpreting legislation affecting the subject’s liberty, strict construction is recommended, but only after verifying that all conditions are met before the subject’s liberty is restrained. In terms of penal law, strict construction must be used in penal legislation, which implies that penal statutes may not be broadened by assumption or purpose beyond the fair meaning of the language employed or the interpretation that is fairly justified by its provisions.
- These statutes will not be construed to include offenses or people other than those expressly defined and provided for in their wording.
- The rule of liberal is aided by the rule of strict construction under penal statutes, which states that any complexity in a penal statute should be settled in favor of the defendant.
According to strict construction criteria of Maxwell, the gravity of the criminal legislation should be determined. Penal legislation must be strictly construed, as stated in Smith v. Wood (1889) and Kamal Prasad v King-Emperor (1947).
In which case is Harmonius construction applied?
This article is written by Ashutosh Singh, a student at Amity law school, Kolkata. The article explains the doctrine of harmonious construction with the use of many case laws. This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar, A legal doctrine is a principle, a theory, or a position that is commonly applied and upheld by the courts.
- Different judicial doctrines have developed over time in the Indian constitutional law based on different judicial interpretations by the judiciary.
- These legal concepts did not form or take place at once but they are a result of disagreements, unrest, debates, and legislative solutions, and require improvement.
These situations arise when the statutes and their provisions have more than one interpretation because of an ambiguity in the law. After the statute has been enacted, the legislature becomes functus officio (no longer has jurisdiction). The interpreters of the law are then unable to question or get back to the legislature to request the exact interpretation of the legislation while they were making it. The doctrine of harmonious construction is followed when there arises an inconsistency between two or more statutes or sections of a particular statute. The fundamental principle behind this doctrine is, a statute has a legal purpose and should be read in its totality and after that, the interpretation that is consistent with all the provisions of that statute should be used.
- In a situation where harmonizing all clauses is unlikely the court’s decision on the provision then takes precedence.
- The doctrine of harmonious construction came into existence as a result of many varied court interpretations of different statutes in a variety of cases.
- From time to time, the judiciary decided matters that involved opposition between two distinct provisions.
This doctrine came cloaked as the rule of conciliation first in the case of C.P. and Berar Act (1939), where the involved court resolved the inconsistency between an entry of List I, and an entry of List II in the Indian Constitution and interpreted them harmoniously.
- In the aforesaid case, the question was whether a tax imposed by a provincial legislature on the sale of oil by a person who manufactured it, based on the ground that it was actually an excise duty.
- Then, a sales tax could be imposed by a provincial legislature, and excise duty could be imposed only by the union legislature.
The Apex Court, in this case, remarked that it would be peculiar if the Union had exclusive power to tax retail sales when the province had executive power to make laws with respect to trade and commerce, its production and supply, and the distribution of goods within its boundaries.
Hence, it was a sales tax and the Act was not ultra vires, The Court added that there was no overlapping or conflict of two entries, so as to apply a non-obstante clause. The doctrine’s conception can be tracked all the way back to the first amendment to the Constitution of India, 1951, in the landmark judgement of Sri Shankari Prasad Singh Deo v.
Union of India (1951), The disagreement between the Fundamental Rights (Part III) and the Directive Principles (Part IV) of the Constitution of India was the subject of the case. Constitutional law is mainly concerned with the creation of the three great organs and the distribution of governmental powers among them, that is the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
The Apex Court, in this case, made use of the rule of harmonious construction and held that Fundamental Rights are granted against the State and they may be revoked only under certain circumstances and even modified by the Parliament to comply with the constitutional provisions. The Supreme Court gave preference to both and said that the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are two sides of the same coin, and it is beneficial that they must work together.
The Supreme Court further held that the Fundamental Rights enforce limitation over both the legislature and executive power. They are not sacrosanct and the Parliament can amend them to bring them in conformity with the Directive Principles. The Supreme Court articulated the doctrine of harmonious construction in the case, Re Kerala Education Bill Case (1957),
- The court added that there was no inherent conflict between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy and they together constitute an integrated scheme and a comprehensive administrative and social programme for a modern democratic state.
- The court called them supplementary and complementary to each other.
Therefore, effort should be put to construe them harmoniously, so that the courts avoid any conflict among the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. They basically run parallel to each other and neither one is subordinate to the other. The aim of the judiciary and the courts should be to view the law as a whole.
- The interpretation of the law should be such that it prevents confusion or incompatibility between the different sections or parts of the statute being used.
- Whenever a discrepancy arises between two or more statutes or different clauses or sections of a statute, the doctrine of harmonious construction must be followed.
The doctrine is based on the straightforward principle that every statute has a legal purpose and should be read in totality. The interpretation should be such that it is unswerving and all of the statute’s provisions should be used. In the event that harmonizing two or more statutes or different clauses or sections of a statute is unlikely, the court’s decision on the provision would take precedence.
What are the 5 principles of construction?
High-level Compliance with New Construction Method – The Five Construction Principles have been established so that the five elements: environmental protection, safety, speed, economy, and aesthetics, conform with a balanced regular pentagon. Although the construction costs might be cheaper, it does not mean that it is acceptable to destroy the environment, and although it might be safer, the construction period must not be too long.
What do you understand by construction Ejusdem generis?
Canons of statutory construction are rules of construction for the interpretation of statute law Canons give common sense guidance to courts in interpreting the meaning of statutes. Proponents of the use of canons argue that the canons constrain judges and limit the ability of the courts to legislate from the bench in US.
- Rules of construction or statutory construction is the process of determining how the provisions of the general law relate to a specific legal case, and distinguishes the rules of statutory interpretation from other rules or aids for the interpretation of law in common law jurisdictions.
- Rules of construction has also been defined as “the drawing in inference by the act of reason, as to the intent of an instrument, from given circumstances, upon principles deduced from men’s general motives, conduct and action.
There are are certain general principles of interpretation which has been applied by the courts from time to time. And one of them viz. Construction Ejusdem Generis has been explained herein below. Ejusdem Generis is a Latin term which means “of the same kind,” it is used to interpret loosely written statutes.
Where a law lists specific classes of persons or things and then refers to them in general, the general statements only apply to the same kind of persons or things specifically listed. Example: if a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and other motor-powered vehicles, “vehicles” would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation.
The term Ejusdem Generis in other words means words of a similar class. The rule is that where particular words have a common characteristic (i.e. of a class) any general words that follow should be construed as referring generally to that class; no wider construction should be afforded.
Construction Ejusdem Generis According to the Black’s Law Dictionary (8th edition, 2004) the principle of Ejusdem Generis is where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same general kind or class as those specifically mentioned.
it is a canon of statutory construction, where general words follow the enumeration of particular classes of things, the general words will be construed as applying only to things of the same general class as those enumerated. The expression Ejusdem Generis means of the same kind.
Normally, general words should be given their natural meaning like all other words unless the context requires otherwise. But when a general word follows specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general expression takes it’s meaning from the preceding particular expressions because the legislature by using the particular words of a distinct genus has shown its intention to that effect.
This principle is limited in its application to general word following less general word only. If the specific words do not belong to a distinct. Genus, this rule is inapplicable. Consequently, if a general word follows only one particular word, that single particular word does not constitute a distinct genus and, therefore, Ejusdem Generis rule cannot be applied in such a case.
Exceptional stray instances are, however, available where one word genus has been created by the courts and the general word following such a genus given a restricted meaning. If the particular words exhaust the whole genus, the general word following these particular words is construed as embracing a larger genus.
The principle of Ejusdem Generis is not a universal application. If the context of legislation rules out the applicability of this rule, it has no part to play in the interpretation of general words. The basis of the principle of Ejusdem Generis is that if the legislature intended general words to be used in unrestricted sense, it would not have bothered to use particular words at all.
It is an ancient doctrine, commonly called Lord Tenterden’s Rule, dating back to Archbishop of Canterbury’s Case in 1596. Singer 47:17, at 272-73. It provides that when general words follow specific words in a statute, the general words are read to embrace only objects similar to those objects of the specific words.
The rule recognizes and gives effect to both the specific and general words by using the class indicated by the specific words to extend the scope of the statute with the general words to include additional terms or objects within the class. In using the doctrine as an interpretative aid, it is important to keep in mind that it is not applied in a vacuum, and disputes cannot be resolved by merely tying the issue to the procrustean bed of Ejusdem Generis.
In fact, there are several conditions that have been identified for the doctrine to apply, but none more important than the identification of the class. There are five conditions that have been identified: (1) The statute contains an enumeration by specific words; (2) The members of the enumeration suggest a class; (3) The class is not exhausted by the enumeration; (4) A general reference supplementing the enumeration, usually following it; and (5) There is not clearly manifested an intent that the general term be given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires.
Classes can be defined in a vast number of ways, but the key to unlocking the true value of the doctrine is to ensure that the identified class has some objective relationship to the aim of the statute. In other words, the basis for determining, which among various semantically correct definitions of the class should be given effect is found in the purpose and subject of the statute as revealed in the legislative intent.
The rule of Ejusdem Generis must be applied with great caution, because, it implies a departure from the natural meaning of words, in order to give them a meaning on a supposed intention of the legislature. The rule must be controlled by the fundamental rule that statutes must be construed so as to carry out the object sought to be accomplished.
The rule requires that the specific words are all of one genus, in which case, the general words may be presumed to be restricted to that genus. For example, the words ‘or otherwise’ are generally used as ancillary to the specific proposition which precedes them.
In Thakur Amar Singhji v. State of Rajasthan, the validity of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act, 1952 was impugned. One of the tenures was known as Bhomichar tenure and it was contended that its holders were not jagirdars. It was held: We agree with the petitioners that a jagir can be created only by a grant, and that if it is established that Bhomichara tenure is not held under a grant, it cannot be classed as a jagir.
We do not base this conclusion on the ground put forward that the word ‘Jagir’ in Article 31-A of the Constitution should be read Ejusdem Generis with ‘other similar grants’, because, the true scope of the rule of ‘Ejusdem Generis’ is that words of a general nature following specific and particular words should be construed as limited to things which are of the same nature as those specified and not its reverse, that specific words which precede are controlled by the general words which follow.
In State of Bombay v. Ali Gulshan, the question was whether the appellant was entitled under Section 6(4)(a) of the Bombay Land Requisition Act, 1948, to requisition, as for a public purpose, premises for housing a member of a foreign consulate. The sub-section provided that the State Government may requisition for the purpose of a State or any other public purpose,
The High Court held that the words ‘any other purpose’ should be read’ Ejusdem Generis’ with the purpose of the State that accommodation for a member of the foreign consulate staff is a ‘purpose of the Union’ and hence the State Government was not entitled to requisition.
Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court held: With great respect, we are constrained to say that the ‘Ejusdem Generis’ rule of construction, which found favour in the court below for reaching the result that the words ‘any other public purpose’ are restricted to a public purpose which is also a purpose of the State, has scarcely any application.
Apart from the fact that the rule must be confined within narrow limits, and general or comprehensive words should receive their full and natural meaning unless they are clearly restrictive in their intendment, it is requisite that there must be a distinct genus, which must comprise more than one species, before the rule can be applied.
In Lilavati Bai v. Bombay State, the petitioner was the widow of a tenant of certain premises and she had vacated from such premises. Finding the premises vacant, the respondent requisitioned the premises under Section 6(4)(a) of the Bombay Land Requisition Act, 1948, for the public purpose of housing a government servant.
One of the contentions of the petitioner was that under the Explanation to the sub-section there would be deemed to be a vacancy when the tenant ‘ceases to be in occupation upon termination of his tenancy, eviction or assignment or transfer in any other manner of his interest in the premises or otherwise’, and that the words ‘or otherwise’ should be construed as Ejusdem Generis with the words immediately preceding them.
It was held: the rule Ejusdem Generis sought to be expressed in aid of the petitioner can possibly have no application. The legislature, when it used the words ‘or otherwise’, apparently intended to cover other cases which may not come within the meaning of the preceding clauses, for example, a case where the tenant’s occupation has ceased as a result of trespass by a third party.
The legislature intended to cover all possible cases of vacancy occurring due to any reasons whatsoever. Hence, far from using those words Ejusdem Generis with the preceding clauses of the explanation, the legislature used those words in an all-inclusive sense.
The rule of Ejusdem Generis is intended to be applied where general words have been used following particular and specific words of the same nature on the established rule of construction that the legislature presumed to use the general words in a restricted sense that is to say, as belonging to the same genus as the particular and specific words.
Such a restricted meaning has to be given to words of general import only where the context of the whole scheme of legislation requires it. But where the context and the object and mischief of the enactment do not require such restricted meaning be attached to words of general import, it becomes the duty of the courts to give those words their plain and ordinary meaning.
- In Western India Theatres v.
- Municipal Corporation, Poona, the respondent levied a tax of Rs.2 per day as license fee on the appellants, who were lessees of a cinema house.
- The levy was under Section 59(1)(xi) of the Bombay District Municipal Act, 1901, which provides that the municipality could levy ‘any other tax to the nature and object of which the approval of the Governor shall have been obtained’.
It was contended that Section 59(1)(xi) is unconstitutional in that the legislature had completely abdicated its-functions and delegated the power to the municipality to determine the nature of the tax to be imposed. The contention was rejected by the Supreme Court and one of the reasons given for the decision is: Although the rule of construction based on the principle of Ejusdem Generis cannot be invoked in this case, for items (i) to (x) do not, strictly speaking, belong to the same genus, they do indicate, to our mind, the kind and nature of tax which the municipalities are authorized to impose.
In Kochunni v. State of Madras, it was observed: The rule of Ejusdem Generis is that when general words follow particular and specific words of the same nature, the general words must be confined to the things of the same kind as those specified. But it is clearly laid down by decided cases that the specific words must form a distinct genus or category.
It is not an inviolable rule of law, but is only a permissible inference in the absence of an indication to the contrary. In Jage Ram v. State of Haryana, the respondent issued a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, for the acquisition of the appellant’s land.
- The notification directed that action under Section 17(2)(c) of the Act shall be taken on the ground of urgency and that the provisions of Section 5-A shall not apply in regard to the acquisition.
- The appellant contended that though Section 17(2)(c) read by itself covers a very large field, that provision should be given a narrower meaning because of the provisions of Section 17(2)(a) and (b).
It was held: The Ejusdem Generis rule is not a rule of law but is merely a rule of construction to aid the courts to find out the true intention of the legislature. If a given provision is plain and unambiguous and the legislative intent is clear, there is no occasion to call in aid that rule.
Ejusdem Generis rule is explained in HALSBURY’S LAWS OF ENGLAND thus: ‘As a rule, 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 specified, although this, as a rule of construction, must be applied with caution, and subject to the primary rule that statutes are to be construed in accordance with the intention of Parliament.
For the Ejusdem Generis rule to apply, the specific words must constitute a category, class or genus, then only things which belong to that category, class or genus fall within the general words’. The Supreme Court in Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board v.
Harishanker, has laid down the following five essential elements of this rule: (1) the statute contains an enumeration of specific words; (2) the subjects of enumeration constitute a class or category; (3) that class or category is not exhausted by the enumeration; (4) the general terms follow the enumeration; and (5) there is no indication of a different legislative intent.
If the legislative purpose of a statute is such that a statutory series should be read Ejusdem Generis, so be it, the rule is helpful. But if not, the rule is more likely to defeat than to fulfill the purpose of the statute. The rule like many other rules of statutory interpretation is a useful servant but a bad master.
- In State of Bombay v.
- Ali Gulshan, the interpretation of Section 6 (4) (a) of the Bombay Land Requisition Act, 1948 which said: ‘State Government may requisition for the purpose of State or any other public purpose, was’ involved.
- It was contended that under the provision the appellant was entitled to requisition premises for housing a member of the foreign consulate.
The High Court held that the expression any other public purpose should be read Ejusdem Generis with purpose of state, and providing accommodation to a member of the foreign consulate being a purpose of the Union and not of the State, the State Government had no authority to requisition.
The Supreme Court held that the High Court was in error in applying the principle of Ejusdem Generis. The general expression any other public purpose follows only a single expression for the purpose of a State which is not a distinct genus. In the absence of a genus the rule has no application. Further, the intention of the legislature is quite clear by the words used in the enactment.
By giving the words their natural meaning it is apparent that the expression any other public purpose includes providing accommodation to a member of a foreign consulate. In Rajasthan State Electricity Board v. Mohan Lal, the respondent raised a question of his seniority in service and filed a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution praying that suitable directions may be given to the appellant Board.
The appellant contended that it was not ‘State’ as defined in Article 12 and that therefore no direction could be given to it. The High Court rejected the appellant’s contention. In the Supreme Court the appellant relied on certain decisions46 in which ‘other authorities’ in the Article were read Ejusdem Generis with ‘State’.
Dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court held: In our opinion the High Court fell into an error in applying the principle of Ejusdem Generis when interpreting the expression ‘other authorities’ in Article 12 of the Constitution, as they overlooked the basic principle of interpretation that, to invoke the application of Ejusdem Generis rule, there must be a distinct genus or category running through the bodies already named.
- Craies summarizes the principle as follows: ‘The Ejusdem Generis rule is one to be applied with caution and not pushed too far.
- To invoke the application of the Ejusdem Generis rule there must be a distinct genus or category.
- The specific words must apply not to different objects of a widely differing character but to something, which can be called a class or kind of objects.
Where this is lacking, the rule cannot apply, but the mention of a single species does not constitute a genus’. Maxwell explained the principles by saying, ‘But the general word which follows particular and specific words of the same nature as itself takes its meaning from them, and is presumed to be restricted to the same genus as those words,
Unless there is a genus or category, there is no room for the application of the Ejusdem Generis doctrine.’ In the Old English case of Evans v. Cross the words ‘other devices’ had to be interpreted in Section 48 (9) of the Road Traffic Act, 1930 which defined a ‘traffic sign’ to include ‘all signals, warning sign posts, direction posts, signs, or other devices’.
Applying the rule of Ejusdem Generis the Court held that a painted white line on a road could not be called a traffic sign because devices are things, which a painted line on road is not. Similarly, in re Latham Deceased, the words ‘or other person’ in the expression ‘trustee, guardian, committee or other person’ in Section 8 (4) of the Finance Act, 1894 was ‘interpreted Ejusdem Generis to mean a person in a similar position to a trustee etc.
- And as such a person who was beneficially interested could not be included within it.
- Where the preceding words do not belong to a distinct genus, the rule of Ejusdem Generis does not apply.
- For instance, in N.A.L.G.O.v.
- Bolton Corporation, the words ‘or otherwise’ had to be interpreted in the definition of a ‘workman’ as any person who has entered into a work under a contract with an employer whether the contract be by way of manual labour, clerical work or otherwise: The court refused to apply the principle of Ejusdem Generis saying the preceding words manual labour’ and ‘clerical work’ did not form a distinct category to be called a gems.
In Lilavati Bai v. State of Bombay the petitioner, the widow of a tenant of a certain premises, was not residing in it at the time. The respondent requisitioned the premises under Section 6(4) (a) of the Bombay Land Requisition Act, 1948 for providing accommodation to a government servant.
The petitioner challenged the requisition on the ground that the premises was not vacant within the meaning of the explanation attached to the section according to which a vacancy will exist when the tenant ‘ceases to be in occupation upon termination of his tenancy, eviction or assignment or transfer in any other manner of his interest in the premises or otherwise: According to her the expression or otherwise should be construed Ejusdem Generis with the expressions preceding it.
The Supreme Court held that the rule has no application in the present instance because the expressions preceding the words or otherwise are not species of the same nature, and therefore, do not belong to any identifiable genus. Assigning the natural meaning to the words used in the enactment it is clear that the expression or otherwise is intended to include all cases not covered -by the preceding expressions.
This interpretation is quite consistent with the object of the legislation. In Hamdard Dawakhana v. Union of India through the Fruit Products Order, 1955, issued under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, it was made obligatory that the peonage of fruit juice in fruit syrup should be twenty-five.
The appellant argued that the order did not apply to its product Rooh Afza even though it contained fruit juices because clause 2 (d) (v) of the Order includes squashes, crushes, cordials, barley water, barrelled juice and ready-to-serve beverages or any other beverages containing fruit juices or fruit pulp and that the expression any other beverages containing fruit juices or fruit pulp should be construed Ejusdem Generis.
- The Supreme Court rejected the contention and held that the rule had no application here because the things mentioned before the general expression any other beverages containing fruit juices or fruit pulp did not fall under a determinable genus.
- Further, the context makes it clear that all beverages containing fruit juice are intended to be included.
In M/s Siddeshwari Cotton Mills Private Limited v. Union of India, the Supreme Court observed that the expressions ‘bleaching, mercerizing, dyeing, printing, water-proofing, rubberising, shrink-proofing, organdie processing, which precede the expression ‘or any other process’ in Section 2 (f) (v) of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 contemplate processes which import a change of a lasting character to the fabric by either the addition of some chemical into the fabric or otherwise.
‘Any other process’ in the section must share one or the other of these incidents. The expression is used in the context of what constitutes manufacture in its extended meaning and the expression ‘unprocessed’ in the exempting notification draws its meaning from that context. In Jagdish Chandra Gupta v.
Kajaria Traders (India) Ltd,, interpretation of the words ‘or other proceeding’ in the phrase ‘a claim of set off or other proceeding to enforce a right arising from contract’ appearing in, Section 69 of the Partnership Act, 1932 was involved. The Supreme Court did not apply the principle of Ejusdem Generis because the preceding words /a claim of set off did not constitute a genus.
- The court also observed that interpretation Ejusdem Generis or Noscitur a Sociis need not always be made when words showing particular classes are followed by general words.
- Before the general words can be so interpreted there must be a genus constituted or a category disclosed with reference to which the general words can and are intended to be restricted.
In Jiyajirao Cotton Mills Ltd v/s Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board interpretation of the words ‘any other relevant factors’ was involved. The Electricity Board has been empowered under Section 49 (3) of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948 to fix deposit tariff for the supply of electricity to any person having regard to the geographical position of any area, the nature of the supply and the purpose for which the supply is required and any other relevant factors’.
- The Supreme Court did not apply the Ejusdem Generis principle because the preceding words did not belong to a distinct category. In M.
- Umar v/s Bharat Earth Movers Limited, the Supreme court observed that to invoke the application of the Ejusdem Generis rule there must be’ a distinct genus or category.
The specific words must apply not to different objects of the widely different character but to something which can be called a class or kind of object; where this is lacking, the rule will not apply and mention of single specie will not constitute a genus.
Conclusion EJUSDEM GENERIS is (a) In an enumeration of different subjects in an Act, general words following specific words may be construed with reference to the antecedent matters, and the construction may be narrowed down by treating them as applying to things of the same kind as those previously mentioned, unless of course, there is something to show that a wider sense was intended.
(b) If the particular words exhaust the whole genus, then the general- words are construed as embracing a larger genus. This is a rule of language employed by the courts when a situation arises that may not have been foreseen when the statute was being drafted.
- It will bring within the meaning of the statute things that are of the same class or genus as those mentioned within the statute itself.
- Thus, if specific items are listed, plus a general term (for example, houses, offices, rooms or other places), the general term of other places will include things only of the same class as the specific list, in this case indoor places.
General words in a statute should be taken ordinarily in their usual sense. General words, even when they follow specific words, should ordinarily be taken in their general sense, unless a more reasonable interpretation requires them to be used in a sense limited to things Ejusdem Generis with those specifically mentioned.
- If, however, the particular words exhaust the whole genus, the general words must be understood to refer to some larger genus.
- The doctrine of Ejusdem Generis is only part of a wider principle of construction, namely, that, where reasonably possible, some significance and meaning should be attributed to each and every word and phrase in a written document.
That being the object of the doctrine, it is difficult to see what difference it can make whether the word ‘other’ is or is not used, provided-and this is essential-that the examples which have been given are referable to a clearly ascertainable genus.
End Notes: 1.Messerschmidt v. City of Sioux City, 654 N.W.2d 879, 884 (Iowa 2002) (citing Shatzer v. Globe Am. Cas. Co., 639 N.W.2d 1, 5 (Iowa 2001)); accord Maxim Techs., Inc.v. City of Dubuque, 690 N.W.2d 896, 902 (Iowa 2005); Black?s Law Dictionary 535; Singer 47:17, at 272-81.2.Id. at 285 3.United States v.
Weadon, 145 F.3d 158, 162 (3d Cir.1998) 4.Id. at 287; see Metier v. Cooper Transp. Co., 378 N.W.2d 907, 912-13 (doctrine inapplicable when there is no inconsistency between the general and specific language).5.Singer 47:18, at 289 6.2 SCR 303 7.AIR 1955 SC 810 8.AIR 1957 SC 521 9.AIR 1959 SC 586 10.AIR 1960 SC 1080 11.AIR 1971 SC 1033 12.3rd Ed., Vol.36, p.397, para 599 13.AIR 1979 SC 65 14.Quasi v.
How many types of construction are there name and define them?
Buildings can be categorized into five different types of construction: fire-resistive, non-combustible, ordinary, heavy timber, and wood-framed.
What is mischief rule of construction?
FAQ 2. What is the Mischief Rule in the interpretation of statues? – The mischief rule of statutory interpretation is the oldest of the rules. The mischief rule is a rule of statutory interpretation that attempts to determine the legislator’s intention.
Its main aim is to determine the “mischief and defect” of the statute. The mischief rule was established in Heydon’s Case in 1584, It was held that the mischief rule should only be applied where there is ambiguity in the statute. Under the mischief rule the Court’s role is to suppress the mischief and advance the remedy.
The Courts while applying the principle tries to find out the real intention behind the enactment. This rule thus assists the court in identifying the proper construction of statutory wording according to the original intention of the legislators. As per this rule, for true interpretation of a statute, four things have to be considered:
What was the common law before the making of the Act? What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide? What remedy Parliament had resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the Commonwealth? The true reason of the remedy.
The mischief rule directs that the Courts must adopt that construction which “shall suppress the mischief and advance the remedy”. But this does not mean that a construction should be adopted which ignores the plain natural meaning of the words or disregard the context and the collection in which they occur.
What is rule of reasonable construction?
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.
- Anwar 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.
- Rishna 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 is the meaning of the Latin phrase Ejusdem generis?
ejusdem generis Ejusdem generis (ee-joose-dem gen-ris) is a Latin phrase that means “of the same kind.” The and principle of “ejusdem generis” states that where general words or phrases follow a number of specific words or phrases, the general words are specifically construed as limited and apply only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those expressly mentioned.
For example, if a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motor-powered vehicles, a court might use ejusdem generis to hold that such vehicles would not include airplanes, because the list included only land-based transportation. Ejusdem generis is an interpretive guide for a under New York law.
The rule is used only to help determine whether there is ; if intent is found, ejusdem generis does not subvert intent.
: ejusdem generis
What do you understand by Ejusdem generis?
Doctrine of ejusdem generis – ‘Ejusdem Generis’ is a Latin term and the meaning of it is ” of the same kind and nature “. According to the Black’s Law Dictionary (8th edition, 2004.), “the principle of Ejusdem Generis is where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things by particular and specific words.
Not only these general words are construed but also held as applying only to persons or things of the same general kind as those specifically enumerated.” This doctrine is also called Lord Tenterden’s Rule (), which is an ancient doctrine. The Doctrine of Ejusdem Generis provides that when a list of specific words are being followed by the general words, the general words are interpreted in a way so as to restrict them to include the items or things which will be of same type as those of the specific words.
In other words, “where a law lists specific classes of persons or things and then refers to them in general, the general statements only apply to the same kind of persons or things specifically listed.” () For example if a law makes reference to cars, trucks, tractors, bikes and other motor-powered vehicles, then the general word which is ‘other motor powered vehicles’ will not include any planes or ships because the specific words preceding are of the kind of land transports and when doctrine of ejusdem generis is applied then that general word will be restricted to includes the things of same category as that of the specific words.
- In case of Evans v.
- Cross, the Court had applied the ejusdem generis rule.
- The issue was in relation to the interpretation of the word ” other devices “.
- It was under the definition of “traffic signals” under Section 48(9) Road Traffic Act, 1930, to include ” all signals, warning sign posts, signs, or other devices “.
The Court held that a painted line on a road cannot be included in the “other devices” as a traffic signs because devices are here indicating a thing, whereas painted line on a road is not.
What does the golden rule of statutory interpretation mean?
The golden rule is a rule of statutory interpretation and allows the courts to assume that Parliament intended that its legislative provision have a wider definition than its literal meaning, and so the grammatical and ordinary sense of a word can be modified to avoid the inconsistency or absurdity created by an application of the literal rule, but no farther.
What is meant by rule of ejusdem generis and its conditions and limitations?
Rule of Ejusdem Generis Ejusdem Generis means ‘of the same kind and nature’. 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.