The Meaning of Statutes Example For Free

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Where the meaning of Statutes cannot be determined LIST OF CASES 1). V.N.Shrikhande vs Anita Sena Fernandes (2011) 1 SCC 53 2). Parmanand v. State of Haryana & Ors. (2012) 3). Sarah Mathew v. The Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases & State (2013) 4). HM Rajappa v. Director of Agriculture Marketing (2013) 5). Arul Nadar v. Authorised Officer, Land Reforms (1998) 7 SCC 157 6). R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay AIR 1984 SC 684 7). Golaknath v. State of Punjab 1967 AIR 1643 8). Shankari Prasad v. Union of India AIR. 1951 SC 458 TABLE OF CONTENT
1. Principle and Concept 7
2. Position and Growth of the Concept 9
3. Analysis and Application of Law with Case Laws
  • Instruments to examine statutes
  • Criticism
  • Conclusion
4. References 18
CHAPTER 1: PRINCIPLE & CONCEPT Statutory Interpretation is the route of interpreting and applying the laws to decide cases. In a way, it is considered to be the most paramount theory-based method which is necessary when the cases involve confusing and ambiguous aspects of the statute. Normally, the words used in the statues have plain and nave meaning. But there are certain cases wherein there is some sort of ambiguity in the text of the statutes which the judge has to make his mind up. Ambiguity and vagueness occurs in the legislations because of the basic nature of language. The purpose of interpreting the statutes is to know the intention of the legislature that are conveyed specifically or impliedly in the language used. But sometimes it also happens that the language used can be interpreted with multiple meanings that is to say each word in the plain text has more than one meaning and this will depend upon the judge that in what sense he interprets. What ordinary thinking says is that in cases where the words have more than one meaning, in those cases the judiciary must interpret in a way the legislature intents. Statutes are sometimes vague sufficiently to carry more than one interpretation. In such cases, the courts have the liberty to interpret statutes themselves. And also, when court interprets the statute in its own way, the other courts will not take the pain to repeat that, but instead they will enforce the statutes as interpreted by the courts previously. So, here the object of interpretation is not achieved because there is no uniqueness left in interpreting the legislations. Mostly it also happens that the statute consist of same words and same meaning; in such cases it is necessary to see to it that if one construction guides to an ambiguity while another giving result to what ordinary thinking would show was evidently intended, the structure which would defeat the ends of the Act must be discarded even if similar words used in the same provision and even in the same sentence have to be read in a different way. To summarize the above point it must be noted that the intention of legislature has to be seen. What legislature wants to convey or intents that must be the ultimate goal while interpreting any statute. Furthermore, another essential corner which needs to be filled is in the case of Homographs. In homograph, the words are same but meanings are different. In a same way, if such words are used in the interpretations, then the judge must use the most preferred meaning to avoid any absurdity and vagueness in the interpretations. If the word only has one meaning, but by applying this would lead to a bad decision, the judge is at his own discretion to give a completely different meaning. Hence, in this project I will be explaining more about the ambiguity in language and words which is a cause of failure in obtaining the meaning of the statutes along with the rules of statutory constructions and various case laws. CHAPTER 2: POSITION OF THE CONCEPT While interpreting the Statutes Understanding of statute is the methodology of finding out the accurate significance of the words utilized within a statute. At the point when the dialect of the statute is clear, there is no need for the principles of understanding. Yet, in specific cases, more than one importance may be inferred from the same word or sentence. It is accordingly important to translate the statute to discover the true expectation of the statute. We can say, elucidation of Statutes is needed for two essential reasons viz. to find out: • Administrative Language - Legislative dialect may be confounded for a layman, and consequently may oblige translation; and • Administrative Intent - The plan of governing body or Legislative expectation absorbs two angles: i. the idea of 'significance', i.e., what the saying methods; and ii. The idea of "purpose" and "object" invading through the statute. 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.[1] The Supreme Court in R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay[2] stated that “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. The question of construction arises only in the event of an ambiguity or the plain meaning of the words used in the Statute would be self defeating.” (Para 18 of the Judgment) The motivation behind Interpretation of Statutes is to help the Judge to discover the plan of the Legislature – not to control that plan or to keep it to the limits, which the Judge may consider sensible or practical. There are certain points which have to be kept in mind while interpreting:
  • Statutes must be studied as whole.
  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
There are many aids to construction of a statute, and these aids are only used when the meaning of the particular statute is not determined. If the provision is clear and understandable, and if from that provision the legislative plan is clear, the other rules of creation of statutes need not be called into aid. They are called into aid only when the legislative purpose is ambiguous. But the courts would not be justified in so straining the language of the statutory provision as to ascribe the meaning which cannot be warranted by the words employed by the Legislature.[5] Similar words, similar meaning Where a Legislature uses same expression in the same statute at two places or more, then the same interpretation should be given to that expression unless the situation otherwise requires. If one construction will lead to an ambiguity while another will give effect to what common sense would show was obviously intended, the construction which would defeat the ends of the Act must be rejected even if same words used in the same section and even in the same sentence have to be construed differently.[6] This is a very common problem while interpreting the words of the statute and for eradication of such problems, some necessary aids are also created so that the objective of the Acts is not defeated by these confusion. Hence, these principles of knowing the intention of legislature are: Literal construction, Mischief rule, Golden Rule, construction to avoid invalidity of the Acts (by giving sensible meaning to them) and so on. CHAPTER 3: ANALYSIS & APPLICATION OF LAW WITH CASE LAWS Instruments to examine Statutes There are a few devices that can be helpful to focus the importance of a questionable statute, or to pick between different plausible understandings of the same statute. A). Plain Meaning (Literal Construction) The plain significance guideline directs that statutes are to be deciphered utilizing the common importance of the dialect of the statute. At the end of the day, a statute is to be perused word for word and is to be deciphered as stated by the common importance of the dialect, unless a statute expressly characterizes some of its terms generally or unless the effect might be savage or preposterous. Besides, some courts have stick to the principle that if the statute is free from any sort of ambiguity then there need not be any further inquiry into the statute’s meaning. When the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous it is not necessary to look into the legislative intent or object of the Act.[7] It is when the language is vague that the legislative’s intention is to be taken into consideration. Words and phrases are to be construed by the courts in their ordinary sense, and the ordinary rules of grammar and punctuation have to be applied.[8] In order to determine the literal meaning of a statute the courts have to ascertain the ordinary meaning of a word in a statute by referring to a dictionary or scientific or any other technical works where the words have been used.[9] In another case of HM Rajappa v. Director of Agriculture Marketing (2013), the High Court of Karnataka held that “when the words of a statute are clear, plain or unambiguous i.e., they are reasonably susceptible to only one meaning, the courts are bound to give effect to that meaning irrespective of the consequences for, the Act speaks for itself.” Subsequently, in V.N.Shrikhande vs Anita Sena Fernandes[10], the Court held that “in determining the meaning of any word or phrase in a statute the first question to be asked is -- `What is the natural or ordinary meaning of that word or phrase in its context in the statute? It is only when that meaning leads to some result which cannot reasonably be supposed to have been the intention of the legislature, that proper to look for some other possible meaning of the word or phrase.” Another feature of plain meaning concept is that if the meaning of a particular word is not given in the statute then the meaning of that word has to be given based on the circumstances and facts of the case. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana in Parmanand v. State of Haryana & Ors. (2012) held that “it is now well-settled principle of interpretation of statute that the words of an enactment are to be given their ordinary and natural meaning, if such meaning is clear and unambiguous. The effect should be given to a provision of a statute in the same manner whatever may be the consequences. The basis of this principle is that the object of all interpretations being to know what the legislature intended, whatever was the intention of the legislature has been expressed by it through words which are to be interpreted accordingly, because the intention of the legislature can be deduced only from the language through which it has expressed itself. If the language of a statute is clear, the only duty of the Court is to give effect to it and the Court has no business to look into the consequences of such interpretation.” B). Golden Rule of Interpretation This rule has brought some modifications in the literal rule. This rule states that if the literal rule produces an absurdity, then the court should look for another meaning of the words to avoid that absurd result.[11] This rule also gives the words of statute their nave and ordinary meaning. However, when this may lead to an irrational result that is unlikely to be the legislature's intention, the judge can depart from this meaning.[12] Simply, this rule gives the permission to the courts to modify in case there is a presence of ambiguity and vagueness in the statutes. The Golden rule implies that if a strict interpretation of a statute would lead to an absurd result then the meaning of the words should be so construed so as to lead to the avoidance of such absurdity.[13] In Sarah Mathew v. The Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases & State (2013), the Supreme Court held that “Golden Rule of Interpretation provides that a statute has to be interpreted by grammatical or literal meaning unmindful of the consequences if the language of the statute is plain and simple.” But this rule is not that effective nowadays after it had failed to initiate its meaning in the case of Shankari Prasad v. Union of India followed by Golakhnath v. State of Punjab. Article 13(2) and Article 368 were in question. Article 13(2) provides that any law which has effect of abridging fundamental rights would be invalid. Article 368 talks about the power of parliament to amend Constitution including fundamental rights. One set of Judges held Article 368 to prevail but the majority view was Article 13(2) shall prevail as fundamental rights are important part of the Constitution. Conclusion is that golden rule fails as there is no objective criteria by which one can determine whether an interpretation is absurd or not. A golden rule produce undesirable result, what is to be followed is purpose oriented method of interpretation to know the intention of legislature for enacting particular statute. Thus due to this, golden rule is not that effective. Criticisms
  • One of the problems of literal rule is that it breeds absurdity. Once in a while the court may find out a certain intending to the statute which was never the aim of the legislature. The customary rule of literal interpretation prohibits the court to put together any meaning other than the ordinary one. If the court applies literal rule and feels that the interpretation is ethically incorrect then they cannot evade giving the interpretation.
  • Some disapprove this rule by saying that the rule weighs on the flawed assumption that words have a fixed meaning. In fact, words are uncertain, heading judges to force their own biases to focus the significance of a statute. As long as there is no ambiguity in the statutory language, resort to any interpretative process to unfold the legislative intent becomes impermissible.[14]
  • While applying the literal approach, some mention about the adaptation of ‘dictionary meaning’, but even the dictionaries have multiple meanings of the single word which again becomes very difficult for the judiciary to interpret that particular word and have to look at the facts and circumstances of the case while applying the interpretation of the meaning of that word.
These are the few criticisms which are highly talked about since many years. Conclusion Literal rule of interpretation is the main rule. Under this rule of interpretation the Courts understand the statutes in an honest and ordinary sense. The Courts while interpreting statutes have to keep few things in mind. It must recognize that a provision is vague only if it contains a word or phrase which has more than one meaning. If the interpretation is open to diverse meanings in one context (situation) it is ambiguous but if it is vulnerable to different meaning in different contexts it is plain. The ability of accurate interpretation would depend on the ability to read what is stated in plain language, read ‘through’ the provision, examining the aim of the Legislature and call upon case laws and other aids to interpretation. And thus, in order to dismantle the absurdities from the statutes, the legislature has to step in. CHAPTER 4: REFERENCES 1). Rajkumar Adukia, “Interpretation of Statutes”, pg. 9, retrieved from: of Statutes.pdf 2). Alekhya Reddy, “Literally Interpreting the Law- A Appraisal of the Literal Rule of Interpretation in India”, Pg. 4, retrieved from: Manupatra Articles. interpreting the Law.pdf 3). Chapter 4: Rules of Interpretation. Retrieved from: 4). Katharine Clark and Matthew Connolly, “A Guide To Reading, Interpreting and Applying Statutes”, 2006. Retrieved from: 5). Statutory Construction, Legal Information Institute (LII). Referred from: 6). Justice AK Srivastava, “Interpretation of Statutes”, 1995, JTRI Journal, Issue-3, pg. 2, retrieved from: Page | 1
[1] Rajkumar Adukia, “Interpretation of Statutes”, pg. 9, retrieved from: of Statutes.pdf [2] AIR 1984 SC 684 [3] Supra note 1 [4] Supra note 1. Pg. 10 [5] Justice AK Srivastava, “Interpretation of Statutes”, 1995, JTRI Journal, Issue-3, pg. 2, retrieved from: [6] Id. [7] Arul Nadar v. Authorised Officer, Land Reforms (1998) 7 SCC 157. [8] Alekhya Reddy, “Literally Interpreting the Law- A Appraisal of the Literal Rule of Interpretation in India”, Pg. 4, retrieved from: Manupatra Articles. [9] Id. [10] (2011) 1 SCC 53 [11] From Rules of Interpretation. Retrieved from: [12] Supra note 1. Pg. 15 [13] Supra note 9. [14] Supra note 6. Pg. 15
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