Singh Vs. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd  INSC 672 (21 April 2008)
H. K. Sema & Markandey Katju REPORTABLE CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5354 OF 2002 Markandey Katju, J.
1. This appeal by special leave has been filed against the impugned judgment
of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court dated 10.1.2002 in LPA No. 665 of
2. Heard Shri R.L. Kapoor, learned counsel for the appellant and Shri
Amarendra Saran, learned Addl. Solicitor General for the respondent.
3. The facts of the case are that the appellant and his wife are living
together at their residence in Rajouri Garden, Delhi. At that residence, there
is one telephone line bearing No. 5121187 in the name of appellant Surjit Singh
and there is also another telephone line bearing No. 5416493 at the same
residence in the name of the appellant's wife. There is a third telephone line
bearing No. 3265301 in the name of the appellant and installed at the business
premises of the appellant at 1195, Chahrahat Building, Jama Masjid, Delhi.
4. It appears that there were arrears of telephone dues in connection with
line No. 5416493 which was in the name of the appellant's wife. For non-
payment of the telephone dues in connection with this line, the other two lines
in the name of the appellant being 5121187 at his residential premises and line
No. 3265301 at his business premises were disconnected.
5. The contention of the appellant was that the telephone lines in his own
name being line No. 5121187 at his residence and line No. 3265301 at his
business premises should not be disconnected on account of non-payment of dues
in connection with the line in the name of his wife being line No. 5416493. He contended that he and his wife are two separate legal entities,
and he could not be penalized for the fault of his wife.
6. The appellant filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court which was
dismissed by a learned Single Judge by his judgment dated 25.9.2001 and his
appeal before the Division Bench of the High Court was also dismissed by the
impugned judgment dated 10.1.2002. Hence, this appeal before this Court.
7. Learned counsel for the appellant has relied on Rule 443 of the Indian
Telegraph Rules which states:
"443. Default of payment -- If, on or before the due date, the rent or
other charges in respect of the telephone service provided are not paid by the
subscriber in accordance with these rules, or bills for charges in respect of
calls of phonograms or other dues from the subscriber are not duly paid by him,
any telephone or telephones or any telex service rented by him, may be
disconnected without notice. The telephone or telephones, or the telex so
disconnected may, if the Telegraph Authority thinks fit, be restored, if the
defaulting subscriber pays the outstanding dues and the reconnection fee
together with the rental for such portion of the intervening period as may be
prescribed by the Telegraph Authority from time to time. The subscriber shall
pay all the above charges within such period as may be prescribed by the
telegraph authority from time to time."
8. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that in view of Rule 443 the
telephone lines in the name of the appellant could not have been disconnected
because of non-payment of dues in respect of the line in the name of his wife.
9. Learned counsel for the appellant invited our attention to the decision
of a Learned Single Judge of the Bombay High Court in Dr. B.V. Manek vs.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd AIR 1996 Bom 53. We have carefully perused the
aforesaid decision and find that it is distinguishable. In that case, the
telephone line of the petitioner had been disconnected because of non-payment
of the dues of another line which was in the name of his father. The learned
Single Judge of the High Court held that the Department cannot disconnect the telephone
of the subscriber on account of the default committed by a relation of such
subscriber. It has not been mentioned in the said decision of the Bombay High
Court that the petitioner's father was economically dependent on the
10. In the present case which is before us it has come on the record that
the appellant's wife is a housewife who is living with the appellant at his
residential premises at Rajouri Garden, Delhi. It has not been alleged that the
appellant's wife has an independent source of income by doing some business or
by some service etc. In these circumstances, it can be inferred that the
payment of the bill of the telephone line in the name of the appellant's wife
was being made by the appellant himself, since his wife has no independent
source of income and is economically dependent on him.
11. In our opinion, we have to draw a distinction between the cases where a
relative who though living in the same house has an independent source of
income, and cases where one relative is dependent on another. While in the
former case if there are two different lines, one in the name of the relative
who is economically independent and has his own source of income and the other
in the name of the petitioner, it could be held that non-payment of dues by the
relative cannot lead to the consequence of the disconnection of the telephone
line of the petitioner. However, in the latter category of cases i.e.
where one relative is economically dependent on another, the position, in
our opinion, is wholly different. For instance, if there is a telephone line in
the name of a minor child of a father, and another telephone line in the name
of the father, and both of them are living together in the same house, then
obviously the telephone bills of the telephone line in the name of the minor
child is being paid by the father. Hence, in our opinion, for non-payment of
the bills of the telephone line in the name of the minor child, the telephone
line of the father can be disconnected.
12. Similarly, there can be a case where the husband and wife are living in
the same house and both have independent sources of income, and the wife
herself is paying for the bills in connection with the telephone line in her
own name, whereas the husband is paying for the bills of his own telephone
line. In such a case, for non-payment of the bill of the wife the telephone
line of the husband cannot be disconnected.
13. As stated above, in the judgment of the learned Single Judge of the
Bombay High Court, it is not mentioned that the father was economically
dependent on the petitioner. Hence, the aforesaid decision can be of no help in
deciding the present dispute, since necessary factual details are lacking.
14. Learned counsel for the appellant then invited our attention to the
decision of a learned Single Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Y. Pridhvi Kumar vs. The General Manager, Telecom District, Hyderabad AIR 1993
AP 131. We have carefully perused the said decision and find that that decision
is also distinguishable. In the said decision it appears that there was a
telephone line in the name of the mother and another telephone line in the name
of the son, and both were living together. There were dues in the name of the
mother and it was held by the Andhra Pradesh High Court that in that situation
the liability could not be fastened on the son and his telephone line could not
be disconnected. It is not clear from the aforesaid decision of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court whether the mother was economically dependent on her son. It
is quite possible that the mother was economically dependent on her husband who
was paying her bills. It is also possible that the mother was a working woman
with an independent source of income. Hence, the appellant in the present case
cannot derive any benefit from the aforesaid decision of the Andhra Pradesh
15. Learned counsel for the appellant also sought to rely on the decision in
Santokh Singh vs. Divisional Engineer, Telephones, Shillong and others AIR 1990
Gauhati 47. However, it appears that an appeal was filed against the aforesaid
judgment in this Court being Civil Appeal No. 2849/1991 titled Divisional Engineer Telephone & Ors. vs. Sardar Santokh
Singh decided on 22.4.2001 by this Court. In the said decision it was held that
the judgment of the Gauhati High Court in Santokh Singh vs. Divisional Engineer Telephone & Ors shall not be treated as a precedent.
16. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent has relied on the
decision of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in Madan Tayal & Pran
Kr. Tayal vs. MTNL 1989 (16) DRJ 51, the decision of a learned Single Judge of
the Delhi High Court in Rajiv Gosain vs. MTNL in Civil Writ Petition No.
6343/1981 decided on 20.4.2000, and the decision of a learned Single Judge of
Delhi High Court in Sukh Dayal Narula vs. MTNL in Civil Writ Petition No.
1693/1996 decided on 26.9.1997. In these decisions the Delhi High Court has
held that the telephone line of a subscriber can be disconnected for
non-payment of dues of a relative who is living in the same premises. Learned
counsel also relied on the decision of the Gujarat High Court in Indravadan
Pranlal Shah vs. General Manager, Ahmedabad Telephones District Kharpur,
Ahmedabad & Anr. AIR 1990 Guj 85 in which it was held that the telephone of the
petitioner can be disconnected if there is failure by the firm in which he is a
partner to pay the dues of the telephone line in the name of the firm.
17. Learned counsel for the appellant has invited our attention to Rule
2(pp) of the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951 which defines a 'subscriber' as
" 'Subscriber' means a person to whom a telephone service has been
provided by means of an installation under these rules or under an
18. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that in view of the
definition of subscriber in Rule 2(pp), the telephone lines in the name of the
appellant could not have been disconnected for default in the payment of dues
in connection with the telephone line in the name of his wife.
19. We have already stated above that where two relatives are living in the
same house a distinction has to be drawn between a telephone line in the name
of a person who is economically dependent on another (who may be the husband,
father etc.), and the telephone line in the name of a person who has an
independent source of income from which he is paying the telephone bills. In
the case of the former, i.e. a person who is economically dependent on another
who is paying his telephone bills, the telephone line in the name of such other
relative on whom the subscriber is dependent can be disconnected for
non-payment of the telephone bills of the nominal subscriber.
20. Learned counsel for the appellant protested that such an interpretation
would be in the teeth of the language used in Rule 443 read with Rule 2(pp) of
the Indian Telegraph Rules.
21. It is true that on a literal interpretation of Rule 443, we would have
to accept the contention of learned counsel for the appellant. However, in our
opinion, in this case, the literal rule has not to be adopted, because we have
also to see the intention of the rule. The intention obviously was that payment
of telephone dues should be made promptly, otherwise the telephone department
will suffer. We have, therefore, to take an interpretation which effectuates
and furthers the intention of Rule 443, i.e. the telephone bills should be paid in time.
22. In the case of a wife who is a housewife and is economically dependent
on her husband, obviously the telephone bills in connection with the line in
her name are being paid by her husband and not by herself. Hence, we have to adopt a purposive construction in this case and not go by
the literal rule of interpretation.
23. Though, no doubt, ordinarily the literal rule should be applied while
interpreting a statute or statutory rule, but the literal rule is not always
the only rule of interpretation of a provision in a statute, and in exceptional
cases the literal rule can be departed from. As observed in the Constitution
Bench decision of this Court in R.L. Arora vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and
others 1964 (6) SCR 784:
"Further, a literal interpretation is not always the only
interpretation of a provision in a statute, and the court has to look at the
setting in which the words are used and the circumstances in which the law came
to be passed to decide whether there is something implicit behind the words
actually used which would control the literal meaning of the words used in a
provision of the statute.
It is permissible to control the wide language used in a statute if that is
possible by the setting in which the words are used and the intention of the
law-making body which may be apparent from the circumstances in which the
particular provision came to be made."
24. Hence it follows that to interpret a statute one has to sometimes
consider the context in which it has been made and the purpose and object which
it seeks to achieve. A too literal interpretation may sometimes frustrate the
very object of the statute, and such an approach should be eschewed by the
25. In Hindustan Lever Ltd. vs. Ashok Vishnu Kate and others 1995(6) SCC 326
(vide para 42) this Court observed:
"Francis Bennion in his Statutory Interpretation Second Edn., has dealt
with the Functional Construction Rule in Part XV of his book. The nature of
purposive construction is dealt with in Part XX at p. 659 thus:
"A purposive construction of an enactment is one which gives effect to
the legislative purpose by- (a) following the literal meaning of the enactment
where that meaning is in accordance with the legislative purpose (in this Code
called a purposive-and-literal construction), or (b) applying a strained
meaning where the literal meaning is not in accordance with the legislative
purpose (in the Code called a purposive and strained construction)."
At p. 661 of the same book, the author has considered the topic of
"Purposive Construction" in contrast with literal construction. The
learned author has observed as under:
"Contrast with literal construction - Although the term 'purposive
construction' is not new, its entry into fashion betokens a swing by the
appellate courts away from literal construction.
Lord Diplock said in 1975: 'If one looks back to the actual decisions of the
[House of Lords] on questions of statutory construction over the last 30 years
one cannot fail to be struck by the evidence of a trend away from the purely
literal towards the purposive construction of statutory provisions'. The matter
was summed up by Lord Diplock in this way - ...I am not reluctant to adopt a
purposive construction where to apply the literal meaning of the legislative
language used would lead to results which would clearly defeat the purposes of
the Act. But in doing so the task on which a court of justice is engaged
remains one of construction, even where this involves reading into the Act
words which are not expressly included in it."
(emphasis supplied) We respectfully agree with the view expressed above.
26. In our opinion, in this case, a purposive construction has to be adopted
in interpreting Rule 443 of the Indian Telegraph Rules.
27. We may also consider the matter from the point of view of our
traditional principles of interpretation. The great Sanskrit grammarian Nagesh
Bhatt in his book 'Param Laghu Manjusha' has said that a word or phrase can
have three meanings:
"(i) Abhidha i.e. literal meaning; (ii) Lakshana i.e. the indicative or
suggestive meaning; (iii) Vyanjana i.e. the figurative meaning.
Usually the literal meaning is followed, but some times the suggestive or
figurative meanings are adopted.
As regards the suggestive meaning (Lakshana) the oft quoted example is
'xaxk;ke~ a?kks"k' : i.e. "I live on the Ganges." This sentence
cannot be literally interpreted because no one can live on the surface of the
Ganges river. Hence it has to be interpreted to mean "I live on the bank
of the Ganga river."
As regards the third meaning Vyanjana, the oft quoted example is 'xrks
vLredZ' which means:
"The sun has set." Here the real meaning has in fact nothing to do
with the sun or its setting, but it really means "light the lamp" or
"let us go home" (because the sun has set).
28. In our opinion, in the present case, we have to adopt the Lakshana (or
Linga) rule of interpretation rather than the Shruti or Abidha (the literal)
rule. In other words, Rule 443 of the Indian Telegraph Rule has to be
interpreted in a purposive sense. Hence the telephone line in the name of the
person who is really paying the bills in connection with the telephone line in
the name of another person who is economically dependent on the former can be
disconnected for non payment of bills in connection with the telephone line in
the name of the latter. Such an interpretation would effectuate the intention
of Rule 443, which is that telephone bills should be paid promptly.
29. Also, it would make no difference whether the telephone line is at the
residence or at the business premises, even if the two are entirely separate.
Hence in our opinion both the telephone lines in the name of the appellant,
one at his residence and the other at his business premises, can be
disconnected for non-payment of the dues in connection with the line in the
name of his dependent wife.
30. We can also utilize the Mimansa Rules of Interpretation in interpreting
31. It is deeply regrettable that in our Courts of law, lawyers quote
Maxwell and Craies but nobody refers to the Mimansa Principles of
Interpretation. Today our so-called educated people are largely unaware about
the great intellectual achievements of our ancestors and the intellectual
treasury they have bequeathed us. The Mimansa Principles of Interpretation is
part of that intellectual treasury, but it is distressing to note that apart
from a reference to these principles in the judgment of Sir John Edge, the then
Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, in Beni Prasad v. Hardai Devi (1892) ILR
14 All 67 (FB), there has been almost no utilization of these principles even
in our own country (except by one of us, M. Katju, J.).
32. It may be mentioned that the Mimansa Rules of Interpretation were our
traditional principles of interpretation used for over two and a half thousand
years, laid down by Jaimini whose Sutras were explained by Shabar, Kumarila
Bhatta, Prabhakar, etc. These Mimansa Principles were regularly used by our
great jurists like Vijnaneshwara (Author of Mitakshara), Jimutvahana (author of
Dayabhaga), Nanda Pandit, etc.
whenever they found any conflict between the various Smritis or any
ambiguity or incongruity therein. There is no reason why we cannot use these
principles on appropriate occasions. However, it is a matter of deep regret
that these principles have rarely been used in our law Courts. It is nowhere
mentioned in our Constitution or any other law that only Maxwell's Principles
of Interpretation can be used by the Court. We can use any system of
interpretation which helps us solve a difficulty. In certain situations
Maxwell's principles would be more appropriate, while in other situations the
Mimansa principles may be more suitable.
33. The books on Mimansa are almost all in Sanskrit, but there is one good
book called the 'Mimansa Rules of Interpretation' by Prof. K.L.
Sarkar published in the Tagore Law Lecture Series, which may be seen.
34. It may be mentioned that the Mimansa Rules of Interpretation were
created for resolving the practical difficlties in performing the Vedic yagyas.
The rules for performing the various yagyas were given in books called
Brahmanas e.g. Shatapath Brahman, Aitareya Brahman, Taitereya Brahman, etc.
There were many ambiguities, conflicts, incongruities, ellipses etc. in the
Brahmana texts, and hence principles of interpretation had to be created for
this purpose. Thus the Mimansa principles were originally created for religious
purposes, but they were so rational and logical that subsequently they began to
be used in law, grammar, logic, philosophy etc., that is, they became of
35. Jaimini in Sutra 6: 3: 9 states:
"When there is a conflict between the purpose and the material, the
purpose is to prevail, because in the absence of the prescribed material a
substitute can be used, for the material is subordinate to the purpose".
36. To explain this it may be mentioned that the Brahmanas state that the
prescribed Yupa (sacrificial post for tying the sacrificial animal) must be
made of Khadir Wood. However, Khadir wood is weak while the animal tied may be
restive. Hence, the Mimansa principle (stated above) permits that the Yupa can
be made of Khadar wood which is strong. Now this substitution is being made
despite the fact that the prescribed wood is Khadir, but this prescription is
only subordinate or accessory to the performance of the yagya, which is the
main object. Hence, if it comes in the way of the yagya being performed, it can
be modified or substituted.
37. In this connection we may also refer to the Wooden Sword Maxim (Sphadi
Nyaya), which is a well known Maxim in the Mimansa system.
This Maxim states "what is prescribed as a means to an action, is to be
taken in a sense suited to the performance of the action" (vide Jaimini
3:1:2, quoted in the book 'Mimansa Rules of Interpretation' by K.L. Sarkar at
185). The word ' Spha' in Sanskrit means a sword, which is normally a
metallic object for cutting. However, 'Spha' in connection with a Yagya has to
be interpreted as a wooden sword, because in a Yagya a small wooden sword
called 'Spha' is used which is a pushing instrument (as a Yagya requires no
cutting instrument, but only a pushing instrument). Thus, 'Sphadi Nyaya' implies
that we have to see the object of the text to correctly interpret it.
38. In the Mimansa system, the literal rule of interpretation is called the
Shruti (or Abhida) principle, and ordinarily it is this principle which is to
be applied when interpreting a text. However, there are exceptional situations
when we have to depart from the literal rule and then certain other principles
have to be resorted to e.g. (1) the Linga (also called Lakshana) principle or
the suggestive power of words or expressions, (2) the Vakya principle or
syntactical arrngement, (3) the Prakarana principle, which permits construction
by referring to other texts in order to make the meaning clear, (4) the Sthana
(position) principle which means the relative position of one text with reference
to another, (5) the Samakhya (name) principle which means the connection
between different passages by the indication accorded by the derivative words
of a compound name.
39. In the present case we are of the opinion that the Linga (Lakshana)
principle will apply.
40. Linga really means interpretation by understanding the context, and it
is a departure from the literal rule of interpretation.
41. The Linga principle can be illustrated by the decision of this Court in
U.P. Bhoodan Yagna Samiti vs. Brij Kishore AIR 1988 SC 2239 where the words
`landless person' were held to mean 'landless peasant' and not landless
42. Here we see that the Court has departed from the literal rule of
interpretation, because by the literal rule even a very rich businessman who
owns no land will be regarded as a landless person. Since the object of the
U.P. Bhoodan Act was to give some land to the landless peasants, the expression
'landless person' was interpreted to mean 'landless peasant' only.
This interpretation was necessary otherwise the entire object of the U.P.
Bhoodan Act would be frustrated and land donated for distribution to
landless peasants could be grabbed by rich businessmen on the ground that they
owned no land, although they may have huge amount of wealth in the form of
shares in their companies, securities, crores of rupees in banks etc..
43. We may also like to point out that there is a difference between Linga
(Lakshana) principle and the Vakya principle. In the former no violence is done
to the wording of the text, but the words or expressions are construed
differently from the literal sense, and hence Linga is really construction by
context. In Vakya, however, some violence is done to the text, e.g. by
connecting two separate sentences, or by adding words or expressions, or by
transferring words or expressions up or down a sentence. This violence may
sometimes become necessary to save the text from becoming meaningless or
absurd, just as the surgeon may have to do violence to the body (by operation)
to save the patient's life. For this purpose the Uha principle is utilized (The
Uha principle or use of reason, is generally applied for construction of
texts). In this connection it may be mentioned that Maxwell also permits doing
violence to the statute in exceptional situations. He says "Where the
language of a statute, in its ordinary meaning and grammatical construction
leads to a manifest contradiction of the apparent purpose of the enactment, or
to some inconvenience or absurdity, hardship or injustice, presumably not
intended, a construction may be put upon it which modifies the meaning of the
words, and even the structure of the sentence. This may be done by departing
from the rules of grammar, by giving an unusual meaning to particular words, by
altering their collocation, by rejecting them altogether, or by interpolating
other words, under the influence, no doubt, of an irresistible conviction that
the legislature could not possibly have intended what the words signify, and
that the modifications thus made are mere corrections of careless language and
really give the true intention".
Thus, in S.S. Kalra vs. Union of India 1991(2) SCC 87 this Court observed
that sometimes courts can supply words which have been accidentally omitted.
(See also the rulings mentioned in G.P. Singh's book "Principles of
Statutory Interpretation" 9th Edition, 2004 pages 70 to 77).
44. The principle of Linga is illustrated by Jaimini in numerous Sutras and
Adhikarnas. Thus the Pranabhrit Adhikarana which is based on Jaimini's Sutra
28, Chapter IV, Book 1 shows how words acquired a wider meaning by the Linga or
45. In the Taittiriya Samhita (184.108.40.206) there is a passage :
"He disposes the Pranabhrit - gkFR'r min|kfr"
46. Again in the same Samhita (220.127.116.11) there is a similar passage :
"He disposes the Ajyani - AT;ku(jsrk min|kfr"
47. Now what is the meaning of Pranabhrit in the one case and of Ajyani in
the other ? The words Pranabhrit and Ajyani are respectively the names of two
Mantras or verses which begin with those words. These verses are used in
consecrating bricks required for a certain purpose in a yagya. From this fact
the bricks consecrated by the Pranabhrit Mantra acquired the name of
Pranabhrit. Similarly the bricks consecrated by the Ajyani Mantra acquired the
name of Ajyani. But in course of time the whole heap of bricks of a particular
kind came to be called Pranabhrit, because one or two bricks of that heap were
consecrated as Pranabhrit bricks. Thus the instance of Pranabhrit becomes a maxim
for extending the scope of a name in the above manner. In fact, the meaning of
the words Pranabhrit and Ajyani in these cases is determined by the peculiar
association of the words and by the context of the passages in which they are
used. Such a use is called Lingasamabaya (embodiment of the Linga).
48. Nanda Pandit, in his work 'Dattaka Mimansa', refers to the Pranabhrit
maxim to show that although the word `substitute' was at first applied in
express term only to six descriptions of sons, later the word by general use
became applicable to all the twelve descriptions.
49. The Pranabhrit maxim gkFR'r U;k; states :
"The peculiar feature of one leading object belonging to a class may
give name to the whole class."
50. Pranabhrit literally means filling with life or inspiring life; but the
expression forms the commencement of a Mantra which is used in consecrating
certain bricks. Hence the word has come to mean a kind of bricks
(gkFR'nkfnSCnkukaa! LrqR;IZRoef|djFe). This is the way in which the word Ajyani
also has come to mean another class of bricks.
51. The Pranabhrit maxim applies in the present case also because we have to
fill life (i.e. given an appropriate interpretation) to the word `subscriber'
in Rule 443 of the Indian Telegraph Rules.
52. The Pranabhrit maxim is often used in the interpretation of a text by
treating it as illustrative and not exhaustive. The illustrative rule of
interpretation is a departure from the literal rule which normally has to be
adopted while construing a text. However, sometimes departures from the literal
rule are permissible, and one of such departures is the illustrative rule.
To give an example, in Sanskrit there is an oft-quoted statement
"Kakebhyo Dadhi Rakshitam" which means "protect the curd from
the crows". Now in this sentence the word 'crow' is merely illustrative
and not exhaustive. The statement does not mean that one should protect the
curd only from crows but allow it to be eaten up by cats, dogs or to get
damaged by dirt or filth etc.
It really means that one should protect the curd from all dangers. Hence the
word 'crow' in the above statement is only illustrative and not exhaustive.
53. We can take another example. In the U.S. Constitution, Article 1 Section
8 states that Congress (the American Parliament) can raise Armies and Navies.
There is no mention of an Air Force there, obviously because there were no
aircraft in 1791 when the U.S. Constitution was promulgated.
The first aircraft was invented by the Wright brothers in 1903. However,
today's reality is that a modern Army cannot fight without air cover.
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a very ardous and lengthy procedure
because it requires two-third majority of both Houses of Congress and
ratification by three-fourth of the States. By the time this is done, the enemy
may invade and occupy the country. Hence the words `Armies and Navies' have to
be interpreted as illustrative and not exhaustive, and they really mean all
armed forces necessary for the security of the country (which would include an
Air Force, also).
54. Thus Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution has to be interpreted
not by applying the Shruti rule (literal rule), but by applying the Linga rule.
The words 'Armies and Navies' in Article 1 Section 8 are to be construed not
literally but as suggestive. In other words, they are only illustrative, and
they really mean all Armed Forces necessary for the security of the country.
55. We may also refer to Maxwell's 'Interpretation of Statutes' where it is
"But it is another elementary rule, that a thing which is within the
letter of a statute is not within the statute unless it be also within the real
intention of the Legislature, and the words, if sufficiently flexible, must be
construed in the sense which, if less correct grammatically, is more in harmony
within that intention.
Language is rarely so free from ambiguity as to be incapable of being used
in more than one sense; and to adhere rigidly to its literal and primary
meaning in all cases would be to miss its real meaning in many. If a literal
meaning had been given to the laws which forbade a layman to "lay
hands" on a priest, and punished all who drew blood in the street, the
layman who wounded a priest with a weapon would not have fallen within the
prohibition, and the surgeon who bled a person to save his life, would have
been liable to punishment. On a literal construction of his promise, Mohammed
II.'s sawing the Venetian Governor's body in two, was no breach of his
engagement to spare his head; nor Tamerlane's burying alive a garrison, a
violation of his pledge to shed no blood."
Maxwell also states:
"The words of a statute are to be understood in the sense in which they
best harmonize with the subject of the enactment and the object which the
Legislature has in view. Their meaning is found not so much in a strictly
grammatical or etymological propriety of language, nor even in its popular use,
as in the subject or in the occasion on which they are used and the object to
56. Thus, in both systems of interpretation, the Mimansa system as well as
Maxwell's system, it is emphasized that the intention of a statute has often to
be seen to properly interpret it, and it is not that the Court can never depart
from the literal rule of interpretation. It all depends on the context, the
subject-matter, the purpose for which the provision was made, etc.
57. As already stated above, while construing Rule 443 we have to give an
interpretation which subserves the intention of the Rule which is that telephone
bills should be promptly paid, otherwise the department will be short of the
funds needed for financing the telephone services which are to be rendered to
the consumers. After all, the salary of the employees of the telephone
department have to be paid, the telephone equipment has to be maintained,
repaired and kept up-to-date. Sometimes new technology has to be introduced.
There may be various other requirements for which funds may be required, and
all these can only be possible if the telephone bills are paid in time. Hence,
in our opinion, the word 'subscriber' in Rule 2(pp) has to be given a wider
meaning, as already stated above.
58. In view of the above, we find no merit in this appeal which is
accordingly dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.