File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Critical Analysis Of Statutory Interpretation

Interpretation means the art of knowing the real sense of an enactment by giving its natural and ordinary meaning to the words of the enactment. It is the method of evaluating the true value of the terms used in a statute. It is not assumed that the Court will view it arbitrarily and, thus, these concepts have evolved from the continuous exercise by the courts. It must be applied to actual circumstances once the law has been established. In every situation, it is impossible for Parliament to spell out how a statute should apply.

Accordingly, it is obligatory for the judiciary to expound the framework as provided by the Parliament & to give its words an effect. This approach is interpreted as statutory interpretation. It is necessary to understand the different factors that can generate confusion about legislative significance before contemplating the way that judges view legislation.

Such variables include the types of drafting mistakes, unforeseen developments, and political ambiguity. In addition to these, there can also be uncertainty about the interpretation of a statute where: words have a peculiar meaning, the meaning of a chosen word has transformed over a course of time, or the meaning of a particular word springs from the context in which that word is used. The three standard approaches to legislative interpretation will now be considered.

The Literal Rule requires the judge to allow their ordinary and natural significance to the words of the statute, whether or not the interpretation's effect is to provide an unjust or undesirable result. The Golden Rule is taken into account in a furtherance of the Literal Rule. It comes into operation where the execution of the Literal Rule will result in absurdity. There may be one of every two types of the Golden Law. The third rule is that the mischief rule. It is called the most flexible rule and was first used in the case of Heydon.

Legislature makes the rule and court interprets it at the time of providing justice. Interpretation is the primary function of a court. Whenever there is a dispute before the court and there is an ambiguity about the real meaning of the law, the law is interpreted by the court. Interpretation means providing the words or phrases used in the law with the best single meaning. The starting point for interpretation is the statute. The important basis for interpretation is each and every part expressed in the statute.

The court has to read the statute as a whole to interpret it. The court is not supposed to interpret arbitrarily. These are listed as general principles, which are literal meaning, golden rule, and mischief rule. There are internal and external aids to correctly interpret what is in accordance with the intention of lawmakers at the time of law making. Rules of interpretation render solid foundation for the super framework of judicial reasoning.

In different decisions, the presumption of statutory constitutionality is critically observed, analysed and applied. Considering the legislative explosion and the responsiveness on the part of judiciary in India, there is no necessity for any specific explanation for challenges relating to interpretation. An authoritative work rightly reiterates that:
one point should be uncontroversial: interpretation is relative to the interpretation of the document.

Therefore, the court's divergent interpretation is some time natural. However, in the Hon'Ble, Mr. Justice R.A. Mehta (Retd)'s case, the Supreme Court began to reiterate the warning in seven-judge bench judgement fifty years back. It extracted from the case of Keshav Mills Co. wherein the Court given its verdict that:
When this Court adjudicates on questions of law, its judgments are binding upon all courts within the territory of India pursuant to Article 141, and must therefore be consistent within the territory of India and the purpose of this Court was to develop and establish a component of uniformity and objectivity in the interpretation of statutes within the country.

It has been correctly said that 'words are not passive agents, which at all times and in all contexts mean the same thing and have the same meaning.

Interpreting the Statutes
The word statutory interpretation applies to the conduct of judiciary in attempting to recognise and justifying the meaning of a legislative piece. On the basis of interpretation, several cases go to appeal.

Firstly, legislation must be drafted in extensive and plain phraseology and essentially deal with both current and subsequent circumstances. Sometimes, a legislation which was formulated to cure an specific problem would ultimately be extended to varying circumstances. Laws are framed by draughtsmen, and the capacity of a draughtsman to foresee the subsequent events is finite. He may not anticipate any potential for the future or omit a viable misinterpretation of the legislation's initial intents.

Another challenge is a particular piece of legislation also attempts to deal with issues that include various and competing interests. There are several words with more than one meaning in both legal and general English. With this being the case, many ambiguities can be found in even the best written legislation. This is not the fault on the part of the draughtsman, but a result of the fact that public would inevitably find different meanings in the language used when they look at a text from different points of view.

Three fundamental principles of statutory interpretation are usually followed by judges in India, and analogous rules are also implemented in various other jurisdictions under the common law. The rules are named as golden, literal, and mischief. While judiciary is not specifically provided with the necessity to use rules of this sort while interpreting a statute, one of these three methods is normally followed, and the method of interpretation taken by any specific judge is always a manifestation of the philosophy that such a judge follows.

Need for Interpretation:
There are certain reasons why statutory interpretation is necessary and these are the following reasons: Inconsistency, unclear and ambiguous language can arise from the ambiguity of the laws regarding the essence of the subject, various draughtsmen and the combination of legal and technical language. Future occurrence expectation leads to the use of indeterminate words. The unlikely job of predicting any possible scenario often contributes to the indeterminate language use.

Therefore, because of the holes in laws, judges have to interpret statutes. Words such as rational are examples of indeterminate vocabulary. In this case , the courts are responsible for deciding what the word fair constitutes. Words may have several meanings and definitions. The description and sense of the language most advantageous to their individual needs will be used by each party in court. The most accurate use of the vocabulary employed is up to the courts to determine.

Rules of Interpretation
Literal Rule of Interpretation:
The judge considers, under this provision, what the law actually means, rather than what it might be inferred. In order to carry out this operation, the judge may apply a literal sense to the terms used in that law, that is, their plain meaning in ordinary and everyday parlance, despite the intention of this is to achieve what would be perceived as an unfair or undesirable outcome otherwise.

The literal rule says that in ordinary and normal sense of the words used, Parliament's purpose is best sought. The Parliament ought to be treated as the representative democratic component of the state to try to affect precisely what is stated there in the rules. If judges are being permitted to render the terms of parliamentary law an apparent or non-literal sense, therefore the will of Parliament, and thus the people, is opposed.

The application of the literal rule is illustrated for the first time in the Fisher's case of 1960. The Offensive Weapons Prohibition Act 1959 declared it an offence to smuggle deadly weapons, including flick knives. In the arcade at Broadmead, James Bell, a Bristol shopkeeper, exhibited a similar pistol in his shop window. The Court of Division declared that he'd not be prosecuted because the accused had not displayed the knives for sale, by utilizing a literal and strict dense of interpretation. In the contract law, this is not legally an offer for sale to put something in a shop window; rather this is clearly an invitation to offer.

An invitation to offer is an invitation to make deals to others, as by showing items in a shop window. When he or she pays money for a commodity on sale, it is the buyer who makes a bid to the store. The court confirmed that the owner of the shop had not instituted an offer to sell as per the literal sense of the offer, and was thus not liable for the commission of such crime. The Parliament later revised the statute to make its stance more apparent that it was an offence to exhibit a flick knife in a shop window.

There are both benefits and downsides to the literal law. It appreciates parliamentary sovereignty constitutionally and the unfettered power of Parliament to make whatever laws it may like, how ludicrous they might appear nonetheless. It also stimulates accuracy in drafting and guarantees that the law can be decided by someone who can read English, which fosters reliability and mitigates litigation. However, many drawbacks may also be detected. It fades to comprehend that the language of English itself is very technical and that in various context, words can have varying interpretations.

Usage of such law can frequently lead to unwarranted idiocy and loopholes that a shrewd litigant can manipulate. Without giving due emphasis to their interpretation in a broader sense, judges have leaned towards over emphasising the literal meaning of statutory provisions. Emphasizing the literal sense of terms presupposes an unachievable perfection in drafting. Finally, it neglects language 's weaknesses.

Golden Rule of Interpretation:
This rule is a literal change in law. It implies that if an incongruity is created by the literal rule, then the judiciary should infer the another meaning of the words to prevent the unwanted outcome. In Grey v Pearson, the rule was closely described by Lord Wensleydale, who stated:
It is important to stick to the grammatical and ordinary meaning of the terms unless that leads to any absurdity or some repugnance or inconsistency with the rest of the language, under which case the grammatical and ordinary meaning of the terms may be changed under order to prevent absurdity and inconsistency, but no further.

In Adler v George case, the method was used so as to prevent an incongruence outcome. It was an offence under sec. 3 of the Official Secrets Act 1920 to impede HM Powers in the vicinity of a forbidden location. In fact, while prohibiting some of the powers inside such a prohibited place, Mr Frank Adler was arrested. He contended that, although he was actually in an obstructed spot, he was not in the vicinity of a restricted area. To enlarge the literal language of the law to include the action done by the accused, the court applied the golden rule.

It would have created absurdity if the literal approach had been applied, as someone objecting near the base would be committing an offence while someone expressing his objection while being inside it would not.

Re Sigsworth
(1935) was dealing with a situation where his mother had been slaughtered by a sibling. The mother had not stated her will and her estate would be given or to say succeeded by her next person in dynasty, namely her son, under the Administration of Justice Act 1925. In the words of the Act, there was no doubt, but the court was not fashioned to let his crime favour the son who had slaughtered his mother. It was decided that the literal approach did not applicable and held that the golden method should be applied instead to keep the son from being repugnant.

No simple means are given by the golden rule to test the presence or degree of an absurdity. It appears to entrusted on each particular case's outcome. Although the golden approach has the benefit of preventing ridiculousness, there is therefore the downside that there is no test to assess what an absurdity is. The golden rule is that their ordinary sense must be prima facie given to the words of a statute. Words of normal and ordinary importance.

Mischief Rule of Interpretation: This third rule provides more power to a judge than either the golden or the literal rule. In order to figure out what loophole or misfortune the statute was meant to fill, this rule allows the court to consider at what the law was before the statute was enacted. To ensure that the void is filled, the court is then forced to interpret the law in such a approach. The rule is found in Heydon's Case (1584), where it was said that four points must be observed for the true reading of a statute:
  1. Before the making of the Act, what was common law.
  2. What was the absurdity and flaw that the common law did not advance for?
  3. What a solution Parliament has rectified and named to cure the Commonwealth disease.
  4. The real justification for the solution; and then the office of the Judges is to render such formulation as the mischief would be suppressed and will be advanced.
This rule provides the court grounds for going beyond the literal language of the law in order to contemplate the issue that was aimed at resolving the specific statute. It is obviously the most versatile interpretation rule at one point, but it is restricted to using previous common law to decide what mischief was meant to resolve the act in question. The case itself entailed a dispute over legislation passed in 1540 under Henry VIII and a claim against Heydon for interference into some lands in Devon County.

In Corkery's case (1951), an instance of the use of the application of mischief rule is found. The accused was sentenced to imprisonment for a month in 1951 for being in alcoholic state in public domain while on a bicycle. Around 2.45 p.m. The defendant was intoxicated and was riding his pedal bicycle down Ilfracombe 's Broad Lane.

Under section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872, he was consequently charged with being intoxicated in possession of a carriage. No real reference to bicycles was made by the 1872 Act. To resolve the case, the court elected to use the mischief rule. The object of the act was to stop individuals from taking recourse of any mode of transportation while in a state of intoxication in a regular or to say public sphere. Clearly, the bicycle could be interpreted as a type of transport and the user was therefore charged correctly.

Analysis Of Golden Rule and Mischief Rule: For the administration of justice, the interpretation of laws is very vital. These are the devices used by judges to read the context of the provisions of the law in order to justify their decisions. Statutory interpretation is a very critical problem that is not made simple because of different factors. One of them is that words do not typically have meanings that are static. Over time, the use of certain words varies. This then makes the reading of laws not as easy as one might imagine.

Beck vs Smith
There may also be instances in which the direct interpretation of words could lead to absurdity. Or there may also be cases in which the purpose of the legislature in the interpretation of statutes is not well articulated. In the event that it was provided that the literal interpretation of a statute could be used only to the degree that it would not create irony or contradict the intent of the legislature, the golden rule was formulated. If the statute's literal reading was to create absurdity, then the legislature's purpose should be applied.

A rule of statutory interpretation that seeks to assess the intention of the legislator is the mischief rule. Originating from a case in the United Kingdom in the 16th century (Heydon 's case), its main purpose is to ascertain the mischief and defect that the law in question has set out to fix, and what decision will effectively enforce this fix.

Statutory interpretation is the court's primary role. The statute is passed by the Legislature and is in the possession of the court to interpret it if there is a conflict. As it reflects the will of the legislature in the form of a law. The starting point for interpretation is the law.

In accordance with the intention of the law maker at the time of lawmaking, the Court must give sense to the statute. The courts are not supposed to interpret arbitrary laws. They must obey those principles, such as the literal meaning, the golden rule and the rule of mischief. Harmonious laws must also be followed and the law as a whole must be read when reading the law.

The oldest rule of interpretation that evolved in the case of Heydon in 1584 is the Mischief rule. The object of the rule of mischief is to remove the law defect and advance the remedy provided for. In the event of misunderstanding and defect in law, four aspects must be considered by the court, this is what the law was before current law, what is a defect that is not supposed to be in the law, for what intent the law offers a remedy and what is the true justification for a remedy.

The Legislature's purpose is to collect mainly from the words used in the legislation, while paying attention to what has been said as well as what has not been said. Literal meaning needs to be applied because the words used are not vague, which is the golden rule of interpretation. The Golden rule is simply a literal rule change.

In the creation of a statute, it is a very useful rule to stick to the ordinary sense of the words used and to the grammatical construction to be collected from the statute itself, unless it is at variance with the purpose of the legislature, in which case the language may be varied or modified, so as to prevent such inconvenience, but no further.

In order to overcome uncertainty in the statutory language in favour of the interpretation that will better accomplish the purpose of the legislature revealed by the statute as a whole, the golden rule is most frequently applied. As can be seen from the event, various judges can apply the rule of mischief differently. It is primarily about the discretion and comprehension of the person applying it. However, in comparison to the golden or literal rules, it serves as a much more satisfactory way of interpreting.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of th...

How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Whether Caveat Application is legally pe...


Whether in a criminal proceeding a Caveat Application is legally permissible to be filed as pro...

The Factories Act,1948


There has been rise of large scale factory/ industry in India in the later half of nineteenth ce...

Constitution of India-Freedom of speech ...


Explain The Right To Freedom of Speech and Expression Under The Article 19 With The Help of Dec...

Types of Writs In Indian Constitution


The supreme court, and High courts have power to issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus , quo...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly