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Golden rule

Golden rule the most important rule in the iOS and legal studys

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Golden Rule
• If the plain meaning of the word
– is ambiguous, vague or misleading or
– if a strict literal interpretation would result in
absurd results
• then the court may deviate from the literal
meaning to avoid such an absurdity.
• This is also known as the golden rule of
interpretation.
In Grey v Pearson (1857) 6 HL Cas 61, Lord
Wensleydale said:
• “… the grammatical and ordinary sense of
the words is to be adhered to, unless that
would lead to some absurdity, or some
repugnance or inconsistency with the rest of
the instrument, in which case the
grammatical and ordinary sense of the words
may be modified, so as to avoid that
absurdity and inconsistency, but no farther.”
In Becke v Smith (1836) 2 M&W 195, Justice
Parke stated:
• “It is a very useful rule in the construction of
a statute to adhere to the ordinary meaning
of the words used, and to the grammatical
construction, unless that is at variance with
the intention of the legislature to be collected
from the statute itself, or leads to any
manifest absurdity or repugnance, in which
case the language may be varied or modified
so as to avoid such inconvenience but no
further.”
• E.g. imagine there may be a sign saying:
"Do not use lifts in case of fire."
• Under the literal interpretation of this sign,
people must never use the lifts, in case there
is a fire.
• However, this would be an absurd result, as
the intention of the person who made the sign
is obviously to prevent people from using the
lifts only if there is currently a fire nearby.

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Golden rule

  • 2. • If the plain meaning of the word – is ambiguous, vague or misleading or – if a strict literal interpretation would result in absurd results • then the court may deviate from the literal meaning to avoid such an absurdity. • This is also known as the golden rule of interpretation.
  • 3. In Grey v Pearson (1857) 6 HL Cas 61, Lord Wensleydale said: • “… the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words is to be adhered to, unless that would lead to some absurdity, or some repugnance or inconsistency with the rest of the instrument, in which case the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words may be modified, so as to avoid that absurdity and inconsistency, but no farther.”
  • 4. In Becke v Smith (1836) 2 M&W 195, Justice Parke stated: • “It is a very useful rule in the construction of a statute to adhere to the ordinary meaning of the words used, and to the grammatical construction, unless that is at variance with the intention of the legislature to be collected from the statute itself, or leads to any manifest absurdity or repugnance, in which case the language may be varied or modified so as to avoid such inconvenience but no further.”
  • 5. • E.g. imagine there may be a sign saying: "Do not use lifts in case of fire."
  • 6. • Under the literal interpretation of this sign, people must never use the lifts, in case there is a fire. • However, this would be an absurd result, as the intention of the person who made the sign is obviously to prevent people from using the lifts only if there is currently a fire nearby.
  • 7. Lee v. Knapp (1967) 2 QB 442 aka Hit-Stop-Run case
  • 8. Provision • Under Sec.77(1) of Road Transport Act, 1960 a driver causing an accident shall stop after the accident. Facts • In this case the driver stopped for a moment after causing an accident and then moved away.
  • 9. • Applying the golden rule the court held that requirement of the section had not been followed by the driver as he had not stopped for a reasonable period requiring interested persons to make necessary inquires from him about the accident.
  • 10. Adler v George (1964) aka RAF case
  • 11. Provision • You cannot obstruct a member of HM forces engaged in security duty in the vicinity of a prohibited place. Facts • Adler gained access to a RAF station (a prohibited place within the meaning of the Official Secrets Act 1920) and was actually within its boundaries. He obstructed a member of Her Majesty's forces engaged in security duty in relation to the station.
  • 12. Literal rule: would mean that Adler is not guilty because ‘in the VICINITY of a prohibited place’ suggests NOT ON the premises but nearby. Held: • The courts felt that this was not the Parliament’s intention, and therefore the literal rule led to an absurd literal meaning. • Therefore the GOLDEN rule was applied whereby the it was held that the defendant was guilty of the offence because "in the vicinity of" should be interpreted to mean ON OR NEAR the prohibited place.
  • 13. R v Sigsworth [1935]aka MFP case
  • 14. Facts • In this case someone had murdered their mother, she had not made a will, which would mean her estate would be inherited by her next of kin, according to the rules set out in the Administration Of Justice Act 1925.
  • 15. Held • In this case her son, the murderer, would have inherited her estate, making him the beneficial party of the crime, there were no ambiguous words in the act, but the court were not prepared to let a murderer benefit from his crime, so it was held that the literal rule should not apply and the golden rule was used to prevent the repugnant situation.
  • 16. R v Allen (1872) LR 1 CCR 367 aka Second Marriage Case
  • 17. • The defendant was charged with the offence of bigamy under s.57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. • The statute states 'whosoever being married shall marry any other person during the lifetime of the former husband or wife is guilty of an offence'.
  • 18. Literal Rule • Under a literal interpretation of this section the offence would be impossible to commit since civil law will not recognise a second marriage any attempt to marry in such circumstances would not be recognised as a valid marriage.
  • 19. Held: The court applied the golden rule and held that the word 'marry' should be interpreted as 'to go through a marriage ceremony'. The defendant's conviction was upheld.
  • 21. • In order to park, permission must be granted from police in uniform. M was a policeman in uniform but off duty and parked his car.
  • 22. • Courts found him guilty and added "from some one else'
  • 23. U.P.Bhoodan Yagna Samiti,U.P vs Braj Kishore & Ors (AIR 1988 SC 2239) aka Bhoodan Case
  • 24. • The Respondents, in 1968, obtained grant from Bhoodan Yagna Samiti under section 14 of the U.P. Bhoodan Yagna Act, of various plots of land situated in a village in Kanpur. • It was cancelled On following grounds: (i) As the Respondent did not reside in the village where the plots were situated they had obtained the grant fraudulently and by misrepresenting facts. (ii) As the Respondent did not fall in the category of land-less persons it was not proper to make the grant in their favour. (iii) The grants had not been approved by the Government of U.P." • It is not disputed that these allotments were made in accordance with Sec. 14 but had not been approved by the Government and the Collector took notice of the complaint and issued notice to the respondents and on the basis of his enquiry he cancelled the allotments made in their favour by the Order in 1976 which has been quashed by the High Court.
  • 25. HC Decision • Against the order of the Additional Collector, the respondents filed writ petitions in the High Court. The High Court held that the respondents were covered by the definition landless persons as they had no land in that village and the district, though they may be traders and paying income-tax and may have properties in the city of Kanpur, and quashed the order passed by the Additional Collector and maintained the grants in favour of the respondents.
  • 26. Sec. 14 • Grant of land to landless persons--The Committee or such other authority or person as the Committee may, with the approval of the State Government specify either generally or in respect of any area, may in the manner prescribed, grant lands which have vested in it to the landless persons, and the grantee of the land shall-- (i) where the land is situate in any estate which has vested in the State Government under and in accordance with Section 4 of the U.P. Zamindari Land Abolition and Reforms Act, 1950, enquire in such land the rights and the liabilities of a sirdar, and (ii) where it is situate in any other area, acquire therein such rights and liabilities and subject to such conditions, restrictions and limitations as may be prescribed and the same shall have effect, any law to the contrary notwith- standing.
  • 27. Held • The Supreme Court held that the expression “landless person” used in section 14 of U.P. Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1953 which made provision for grant of land to landless persons, was limited to “landless laborers”. A landless labour is he who is engaged in agriculture but having no agricultural land. • The Court further said that “any landless person” did not include a landless businessman residing in a city. The object of the Act was to implement the Bhoodan movement, which aimed at distribution of land to landless labourers who were verged in agriculture. A businessman, though landless cannot claim the benefit of the Act.
  • 28. G.Narayanaswami v. G. Pannerselvam (1972) 3 SCC 717 aka Graduation Case
  • 29. Facts • The appellant’s election, held on April 11, 1970, to the Madras Legislative Council from the Madras District Graduates’ Constituency was set aside by a learned Judge of the Madras High Court.
  • 30. Grounds in HC • The Appellant Narayana-swami, who had only passed the High School Leaving Examination and was not a Graduate, could not be elected at all to the Legislative Council from the Graduates’ Constituency. • secondly, it would be absurd and destructive of the very concept of representation of especially qualified persons that an individual who does not possess the essential or basic qualification of the electors should be a representative of those who are to be represented because of this special qualification of theirs.
  • 31. • “171 (1) The total number of members in the Legislative Council of a State having such a Council shall not exceed one-third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly of that State: Provided that the total number of members in the Legislative Council of a State shall in no case be less than forty. (2) Until Parliament by law otherwise provides, the composition of the Legislative Council of a State shall be as provided in clause (3).
  • 32. (3) Of the total number of members of the Legislative Council of a State— (a) as nearly as may be, one-third shall be elected by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and such other local authorities in the State as Parliament may by law specify; (b) as nearly as may be, one-twelfth shall be elected by electorates consisting of persons residing in the State who have been for at least three years graduates of any university in the territory of India or have been for at ‘least three years in possession of qualifications prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament as equivalent to that of a graduate of any such university; (c) as nearly as may be, one-twelfth shall be elected by electorates consisting of persons who have been for at least three years engaged in teaching in such educational institutions within the State, not lower in standard than that of a secondary school, as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament; (d) as nearly as may be, one-third shall be elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly of the State from amongst persons who are not members of the Assembly; (e) the remainder shall be nominated by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of clause (5).
  • 33. • The term “electorate”, used in Article 171(3), (a), (b) and (c) has neither been defined by the Constitution nor in any enactment by Parliament. • Section 2(1) (a) of the Representation of People Act 43 of 1951, however, says: “ ‘elector’, in relation to a constituency means a person whose name is entered in the electoral roll of that constituency for the time being in force and who is not subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950.”
  • 34. • Section 16 of the Representation of People Act, 43 of 1951, lays down the qualifications of an elector negatively by prescribing who shall be disqualified for registration in an electoral roll. A disqualified person is one who: “(a) is not a citizen of India; or (b) is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or (c) is for the time being disqualified from voting under the provisions of any law relating to corrupt practices and other offences in connection with elections.”
  • 35. • whether the representative of the Graduates should also be a graduate to stand in the elections?
  • 36. • The plain and ordinary meaning of the term “electorate” is confined to the body of persons who elect. • It does not contain, within its ambit, the extended notion of a body of persons electing representatives “from amongst themselves”. • Thus, the use of the term “electorate”, in Article 171(3) of our Constitution, could not, by itself, impose a limit upon the field of choice of members of the electorate by requiring that the person to be chosen must also be a member of the electorate.
  • 37. Held • We think that the language as well as the legislative history of Articles 171 and 173 of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, enable us to presume a deliberate omission of the qualification that the representative of the Graduates should also be a graduate. • In our opinion, no absurdity results if we presume such an intention. We cannot infer as the learned Judge of the Madras High Court had done, from the mere fact of such an omission and opinions underlying Article 171 of our Constitution, that the omission was either unintentional or that it led to absurd results. • We think that, by adding a condition to be necessary or implied qualifications of a representative of the Graduates which the Judge had really invaded the legislative sphere. The defect, if any, in the law could be removed only by law made by Parliament. • We conclude that the appellant possesses all the qualifications laid down for such a candidate. Therefore, we allow this appeal, set aside the Judgment of Madras High Court.
  • 38. Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries (1940) AC 1014
  • 39. Facts • The appellant is a coalminer, and between January, 1937, and June 4, 1937, there existed between him and the Hickleton Main Colliery Company, Ld., a contract under which he worked at the colliery and received wages from that company. • On June 4, 1937, an order was made by the Chancery Division of His Majesty's High Court of Justice under s. 154, which transferred to the respondent company all the property, rights, powers, liabilities and duties of a number of colliery companies, including the Hickleton Main Colliery Company, and which provided that these transferor companies should be dissolved without winding up. • The appellant continued to work at the Hickleton Main Colliery until October 7, 1937, and received wages from the respondents for his labour, but he throughout believed himself to be working under his contract with the Hickleton Main Colliery Company, Ld., which contract had never been terminated by notice. • The company, however, as the result of the order made by the Chancery Division, had ceased to exist. On October 7, 1937, the appellant absented himself from work, in circumstances which would have made him liable under s. 4 of the Employers and Workmen Act, 1875, if he could be regarded as under a contract of service with the respondents.
  • 40. • Whether transfer u/s. 154 includes transfer of contract service under transfer of all the property, rights, powers, liabilities and duties?
  • 41. Section 154 of the Companies Act 1929 "Where an application is made to the court... for the sanctioning of a compromise or arrangement... and it is shown to the court that the compromise or arrangement has been proposed for the purposes of or in connection with a scheme for the reconstruction of any company or companies or the amalgamation of any two or more companies, and that under the scheme the whole or any part of the undertaking or the property of any company concerned in the scheme (in this Section referred to as 'a transferor company") is to be transferred to another company (in this Section referred to as 'the transferee company"), the court may... by... order, make provision for all or any of the following matters: - (a) The transfer to the transferee company of the whole or any part of the undertaking and of the property or liabilities of any transferor company..."
  • 42. • We can come to no other conclusion than that an order made under Sec.154 does not automatically transfer contracts of personal service. • The word "contract“ does not appear in the section at all, and I do not agree with the view expressed in the Court of Appeal that a right to the service of an employee is the property of the transferor company. Such a right cannot be the subject of gift or bequest; it cannot be bought or sold; it forms no part of the assets of the employer for the purpose of administering his estate. • Sec. 154 when it provides for "transfer" is providing in my opinion for the transfer of those rights which are not incapable of transfer and is not contemplating the transfer of rights which are in their nature incapable of being transferred. • Current contracts for the supply and purchase of goods are subject to statutory novation except contracts for the supply of "your requirements" or the like which, like contracts to obey "your orders," do not seem to me capable of automatic transfer.
  • 43. ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES The golden rule can prevent the problems of the literal rule, e.g. injustice. An absurdity may mean different things to different judges. The rule can put into practice what Parliament intended. May give judge too much discretion – how? Golden rule provides a check on the strictness of the literal rule. Professor Zander’s criticisms of the golden rule – ‘an unpredictable safety valve’ It respects the parliamentary supremacy as it does not give judges complete freedom to interpret.
  • 44. • Union of India v. Filip Tiago De Gama of Vedem Vasco De Gama, AIR 1980 SC 981 : (1990) 1 SCC 277 (case presentation)