INTERNAL AIDS TO INTERPRETATION
( India )
INTERNAL AIDS TO INTERPRETATION
Language and it’s limitation.
What is Statute ? It’s Origin, Nature & Scope.
(a) Read Statute as a whole and
(b) If Language is plain, do not stretch / contract it.
Difficulty arises when language is not clear. Therefore
comes the role of interpretation / construction and their
Broadly two interpretation aids are available:-
(1) Internal aids - which are existing in the Statutes itself
(2) External aids - which are found outside the Statutes.
Dictionary meaning : Introduction or Preliminary Statement
Preamble contains main object of the Act
Preamble cannot be referred, if language of the
enactment is clear.
Preamble is a key to open the mind of the makers of the
act and the mischief which they intended to remove.
Preamble in Constitution of India.
(1) Kesavanand Bharati v/s State of Kerala ( 1973 - SC )
Declared by majority that preamble is part of the constitution
(2) State of West Bengal v/s Anwar Ali ( 1952 - SC )
Preamble to “ West Bengal Special Courts Act, 1950 “
referred to end the dispute.
(3) Kedar Nath v/s State of West Bengal ( 1953 - SC )
Identical approach as above in No. (2) –” West Bengal
Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1949 “
(4) Rastriya Mill Mazdoor Sangh v/s N.T.C ( 1996 - SC )
Held, Preamble cannot be invoked when language is clear.
“Textile Undertaking (Takeover of Management) Act, 1983.”
Short / Long Title - Purpose of title is to give a general
description about the object of the act.
Reference to IPC, CPC, Cr. PC, I.D. Act etc.
Title is not considered if language is clear.
(1) Ashwini Kumar v/s Arbinda Bose ( 1952 - SC )
“Supreme Court Advocates (Practice in High Courts) Act,
1951.” It’s Long title “ An Act to authorize advocates of
Supreme Court to Practice as of right in any High Court “
was referred to end the controversy.
(2) Manoharlal v/s State of Punjab (1961 - SC )
“Punjab Trade Employees Act. 1940 “ - Title referred to
settle the dispute.
Heading are of two kinds (1) Heading prefixed to a section
(2) Heading prefixed to a group or set of sections.
Heading is treated as preamble to above.
Heading is not useful if language is clear.
Reference to IPC S. 299 to 348. Various heading for
group of offences in various section.
Bhinka v/s Charan Sing (1959 - SC )
“U.P. Tenancy Act, 1939”
S.180 Heading of section “ Ejectment of Person
occupying land without title “ was referred by court for
resolving the dispute.
(4) MARGINAL NOTES
Inserted at the side of sections and express the effect of
sections. Unlike in our Constitution of India, marginal notes in
other enactments are added by drafters. Occasionally they
are inaccurate. They are hence not part of the Statutes.
Courts do not depend upon them now, unlike in past.
But in the case of our Constitution of India, marginal notes are
added by the constituent assembly, hence they are referred in
(1) Charanlal Shah v/s NandKishor Bhatt ( 1973 - SC )
“Representation of People’s Act, 1951”
S. 117 and S. 86
(2) Madura Coats v/s It’s Workmen ( 1977 - SC )
“Payment of Bonus Act, 1965” S. 31-A
(3) S.P. Gupta v/s President of India. ( 1982 - SC )
Study of surrounding provisions provide answers to an
ambiguous or equivocal or intricate word. Read entire
Statute. Study the context in which word is used.
Examples:- (1) S. 302 Punishment for Murder. Words like
Murder, Death, Culpable Homicide u/s 6(46)
, 299, 300 IPC provide answer to questions
arising in the study of S. 302.
(2) S. 497 IPC on Adultery.
Study the Context.
(6) PUNCTUATION AND BRACKETS
Full-stop, comma, colon, Semi-colon, hyphen, oblique,
Before 1850 in England, Punctuation played no
role in interpretation.
In India, Courts usually give importance to them but if
thereby the meaning obtained is doubtful then the courts
interpret the provisions as if no punctuation marks exist
and arrive at the meaning.
PUNCTUATION AND BRACKETS (Cont. )
(1) A.K. Gopalan v/s State of Madras ( 1950 - SC )
Article 22(7) of Constitution having commas interpreted.
(2) Judgment in above case overruled in Shambhunath Sarkar
v/s State of West Bengal ( 1973 - SC )
(3) Ashwini Kumar v/s Arbinda Bose ( 1952 - SC )
Punctuation not followed by court.
(4) Moh. Shabir v/s State of Maharashtra ( 1979 - SC )
S. 27 “Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.”
(5) Strange Case of Sir Roger Casements (accused literally
hanged by a comma)
Provisions are made practical through Illustrations.
However, they are not treated as complete.
They cannot control plain meaning.
Interpretation cannot be made contrary to Illustrations.
No extended or restricted meaning can be given to
provisions on the basis of illustrations.
IPC is full of illustrations.
References to S. 299, 300, 88 etc. of IPC.
(1) Shambhunath v/s State of Ajmer ( 1965 - SC )
Illustrations in S. 101 and 106 of
“ Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ” referred
Principle evolved on interpreting illustrations.
(2) Moh. Syedol Ariffin v/s Y.O. Gark ( 1916 - PC )
Evidence Act S. 32(5) - Illustration ( L ) referred.
(8) DEFINITION AND INTERPRETATION CLAUSE
Natural meaning of some words are extended or restricted
through definition / interpretation clause in the enactment.
Sometimes particular meaning is provided. It cannot be used
to explain same word in other enactment unless such
enactments are Pari Materia. Exceptions are :-
I.D Act s. 2(j) ‘ Industry ’ / BIR Act s.3(19) ‘ industry ‘
I.D Act s. 2(g) ‘ Employer ’ / BIR Act s.3(14) ‘ employer ‘
I.D Act s. 2(k) ‘ Ind. dispute ’ / BIR Act s.3(17) ‘ Ind. dispute‘
Above words carry different meaning in each act.
Following words indicate definition
(1) ‘Means’ ........ exhaustive meaning constructed
(2) ‘Means and includes’ ……” exhaustive meaning constructed “
(3) ‘Includes’ ...... enlarges ordinary meaning
(4) ‘denotes’ ...... confined to the ambit of the word.
(5) ‘deemed to be’ ...... creates a fiction
(6) ‘that is to say’ ...... Illustrative of meaning
DEFINITION AND INTERPRETATION CLAUSE
(1) The Indian Contract Act, 1872 S. 2
For Interpretation Clauses
(2) IPC S. 6 to 51
Most of which are definition clauses.
(1) Pradyat Kumar v/s Chief Justice, Calcutta (1956 - SC )
Constitution Art. 229(1), 367(1) & General Clauses Act,
1897 S. 16(1)
(2) State of Bombay v/s Hospital Mazdoor Sabha ( 1960 - SC )
I.D. Act S. 2(j) ‘ Industry’.
(3) Ardeshir v/s Bombay State ( 1962 – SC )
Factory Act S. 2(m) & S.6 referred.
(4) Delhi Judicial Service Association, Tis Hazari Court v/s
State of Gujarat ( 1991 – SC )
Art. 129 of Constitution of India, referred.
Ordinarily for exception to main section or exemption from it,
Proviso is added in the section.
General rule on Proviso is - it Limits the ambit of the section,
which it qualifies.
If proviso contradicts main enactment, then proviso prevails
as it speaks the last intention of the legislature. However
attempt to reconcile both should be made first.
Rulings:- (1) T. Devdasan v/s Union of India (1964-SC )
Constitution of India Art 16(1) and 16(4)
(2) Ishwarbhai v/s Motibhai ( 1966 - SC )
Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Land Act,1948
S. 43(c) - Proviso
Example of Proviso :- IPC S. 300 Exception - 1
& Proviso 1 to 3.
(10) EXCEPTION AND SAVING CLAUSES
Exception is added to an enactment for exempting something
which would otherwise fall in the ambit of main provision.
Ordinarily, in conflict with operative part, operative part prevails
over exception and only in rare cases exception prevails over
Difference between Proviso and Exception :
Section is followed by proviso and proviso applies in certain
circumstances whereas exceptions apply in all circumstances.
Example of Exceptions :- (1) IPC S. 76 to 105
(2) IPC S. 300 Exception 1 to 5
Saving clauses are appended in cases of repeal and re-
enactment of a Statute to ensure the continuation of past rights.
Example:- (1) General Clauses Act, 1897 S. 29
(2) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 S. 29 (1 to 4)
(3) Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 S. 30.
Rules are understood as showing procedure necessary for
administration and execution of main Act.
Sometimes rules provide clarification for ambiguous
provision of the Act.
Rules are considered as part of Statutes.
Examples:- (1) I.D. Act – 90 Rules (2) BIR Act – 76 Rules
Rulings:- (1) TELCO v/s Gram Panchayat (1976 – SC )
Bombay Village Panchayat Act, 1933,
S .89 and Rule 108. Meaning of ‘House’
(2) 1913 – Calcutta Case
CPC, 1908 S. 107
Fiction is a legal assumption which , In Fact, does not exist.
Examples:- (1) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
S. 29 (1)(2)(3)
Rulings:- (1) State of Bombay v/s Pandurang ( 1981-BH )
S.16(1) Bombay Buildings ( Control and Eviction )
Act, 1948 & Bombay Buildings ( Control and
Eviction ) Ordinance, 1948.
(2) K.S Dharmanandan v/s
Central Government & Others (1979 – SC )
S. 5(2)(d) and S. 6 of
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947
Explains meaning of a particular provision
Doubt, Confusion, Ambiguity, vagueness etc removed
Offers additional support to the object of the provision
It cannot take away statutory right which is awarded
Court’s duty to harmonize in case of conflict between
main provision and the explanation.
Examples:- (1) Cr. P.C S.125(1) & (3)
Explanation on ‘wife’
(2) IPC S. 299 Explanation 1 to 3
Schedule indicates how claims or rights under the act are
asserted or powers exercised.
It comes at the end of the act.
It is part of the act.
In conflicts between Schedule and the Act, Act prevails.
Examples:- (1) Constitution of India. Schedule 1 to 12.
(2) I.D. Act - Schedule 1 to 5.
(3) BIR Act - Schedule 1 to 3.
Rulings:- Alphalia Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v/s
State of Maharashtra ( 1989 – SC )