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JIGL – Questions & Answer (Part 1) CS Executive

Interpretation of Statutes – Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws Important Questions

Question 1.

Discuss in brief the primary rule of literal construction In the Interpretation of a statute. [Dec 2013 (6 Marks)]

Answer:

In construing statutes the cardinal rule is to construe its provisions literally and grammatically giving the words their ordinary and natural meaning. This rule is also known as the plain meaning rule.

According to the primary rule, the words, phrases, and sentences of a statute are to be understood in their natural, ordinary, or popular and grammatical meaning, unless such a construction leads to an absurdity or the statute suggests a different meaning.

The words ‘natural’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘popular’ are used interchangeably. They mean the grammatical or literal meaning, except when there are technical words.

Some of the other basic principles of literal construction are:

Every word in the law should be given meaning as no word is unnecessarily used.

One should not presume any omissions and if a word is not there in the Statute, it shall not be given any meaning.

The first and most elementary rule of constructions is that the words and phrases of technical legislation are used in their technical meaning if they have acquired one, and otherwise in their ordinary meaning, and the second is that the phrases and sentences are to be construed according to the grammar rule.

If there is nothing to modify, alter or qualify the language which the statute contains, it must be construed in the ordinary and natural meaning of the words and sentences. Nothing is to be added to or taken from a statute unless there are adequate grounds to justify the interference.

Question 2.

Explain the Mischief Rule in the interpretation of statutes. [June 2010 (6 Marks)]

Answer:

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 principal 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 the 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 for 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 construction should be adopted which ignores the plain natural meaning of the words or disregard the context and the collection in which they occur. [Umed Singh v. Raj Singh]

In Sodra Devi’s case, the Supreme Court has expressed the view that the rule in Heydon’s case is applicable only when the words in question are ambiguous and are reasonably capable of more than one meaning.

Question 3.

“Heydon’s rule is not always operative in the interpretation of statutes.” Comment. [Dec 2011 (4 Marks)]

Answer:

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 principal 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 the 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 for the remedy.

Question 4.

Explain the ‘mischief rule’ under the Interpretation of Status. [Dec 2018 (4 Marks)]

Answer:

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 principal 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 the 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 for the remedy.

Question 5.

Explain the rule of harmonious construction. [Dec 2009 (4 Marks)]

Answer:

When there is a conflict between two or more provisions of the law they should be followed in such a way that maximum benefit can be obtained and no rule needs to be violated in the process of following another one.

It is a sound rule of interpretation that Courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of the Statute.

A statute must be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.

It is the duty of the Courts to avoid conflict between two provisions, and whenever it is possible to do so to construe provisions that appear to conflict so that they harmonize.

Where in an enactment, there are two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that, if possible, the effect may be given to both. This is what is known as the “rule of harmonious construction”. Such a construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and s* other parts of the statute.

Question 6.

Explain the importance of the rule of harmonious construction in the interpretation of a statute with the help of decided case law. [Dec 2014 (4 Marks)]

Answer:

When there is a conflict between two or more provisions of the law they should be followed in such a way that maximum benefit can be obtained and no rule needs to be violated in the process of following another one.

It is a sound rule of interpretation that Courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of the Statute.

A statute must be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.

It is the duty of the Courts to avoid conflict between two provisions, and whenever it is possible to do so to construe provisions that appear to conflict so that they harmonize.

Where in an enactment, there are two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that, if possible, the effect may be given to both. This is what is known as the “rule of harmonious construction”. Such a construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and s* other parts of the statute.

In Raj Krushna Bose v. Binod Kanungo And Others, it was held that it is the duty of the Courts to avoid a head-on crash between two sections of the same Act and, whenever it is possible to do so, to construct provisions which appear to conflict so that they harmonize.

Question 7.

Explain the rule of harmonious construction in the interpretation of statutes. [June 2011 (8 Marks)]

Answer:

When there is a conflict between two or more provisions of the law they should be followed in such a way that maximum benefit can be obtained and no rule needs to be violated in the process of following another one.

It is a sound rule of interpretation that Courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of the Statute.

A statute must be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.

It is the duty of the Courts to avoid conflict between two provisions, and whenever it is possible to do so to construe provisions that appear to conflict so that they harmonize.

Where in an enactment, there are two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that, if possible, the effect may be given to both. This is what is known as the “rule of harmonious construction”. Such a construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and s* other parts of the statute.

Question 8.

Explain the doctrine of “ut res Magisvaleat quant perfect”. [Dec 2006 (10 Marks)]

Or

Describe the “Rule of Reasonable Construction” under the Interpretation of Statutes. [Dec 2019 (5 Marks)]

Answer:

Utes Magisvaleat Quimper at means that the thing may rather have an effect than be destroyed.

The “ut res Magisvaleat Quampereaf (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. The Court must try as far as possible, to keep the statute within the competence of the legislature concerned.

As per this rule, the Court will reject the construction which will defeat the plain intention of the legislature even though there may be inexactitude in the language used.

Preference should be given to such construction which affords consistency and certainty, facilitating the smooth working of the legal system.

As far as possible all the words used in the statute must be given meaning as the legislature is not expected to use unnecessary words. Superfluous or insignificant words are not used by the makers of the statute.

Question 9.

“Rule of Ejusdem Generis is merely a rule of construction to aid the courts to find out the true intention of the legislature.” Explain. [Dec 2010 (6 Marks)]

Answer:

Ejusdem Generis means “of the same kind or species”. The rule of ‘Ejusdem generic ‘one of the primary rules for the interpretation of statutes. It is of great help to the Courts, to find out the true intention of the legislature. The rule can be explained as:

When general words follow specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general word takes its meaning from preceding expressions.

Examples:

1. If a law uses the words such as ‘oxen, bulls, goat, cows, buffaloes, horses, etc.’ the word ‘etc.’ cannot include wild animals like lion and tiger. Also, all the domestic animals will not be covered. The illustration given relates to all four-legged animals and hence other domestic animals like dogs, cats can be included but not cock or hen since cock or hen has no similarity with the illustrations of other domestic animals given.

2. 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.

It is merely a rule of construction to aid the Courts to find out the true intention of the Legislature (Jage Ram v. the State of Haryana)

The rule is applicable subject to the following conditions:

The statute contains the enumeration of specific words.

Members of the enumeration constitute a class.

Class is not exhausted by enumeration.

General term follows enumeration.

There is a distinct genus that comprises more than one species, and

There is no clearly manifested intention that the general term is given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires.

The rule is required to be applied with great caution because it implies a departure from a natural meaning of words, in order to give effect to the supposed intention of the legislature.

Question 10.

Explain the rule of Ejusdem Generis with the help of any case decided by the Supreme Court of India. [June 2013 (6 Marks)]

Answer:

Ejusdem Generis means “of the same kind or species”. The rule of ‘Ejusdem Generis ‘one of the primary rules for the interpretation of statutes. It is of great help to the Courts, to find out the true intention of the legislature. The rule can be explained as:

When general words follow specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general word takes its meaning from preceding expressions.

Examples:

1. If a law uses the words such as ‘oxen, bulls, goat, cows, buffaloes, horses, etc.’ the word ‘etc.’ cannot include wild animals like lion and tiger. Also, all the domestic animals will not be covered. The illustration given relates to all four-legged animals and hence other domestic animals like dogs, cats can be included but not cock or hen since cock or hen has no similarity with the illustrations of other domestic animals given.

2. 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.

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