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Report No. 60

5.6. Position in England and in Australia.-

In general, courts in England and Australia held that the marginal notes cannot be used as a means of finding the true meaning of a section when the meaning of that section is in doubt.1 Indeed, in some cases, Parliaments have passed Acts which seem designed to make sure that the marginal notes will not be used to find the meaning of the section. For example, the Victorian Parliament has passed an Act,2 stating that:

"Neither the marginal notes nor the foot-notes to any such Act other than any annual appropriation Act shall be a part thereof."3

In India, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha has also ruled4 that marginal notes do not form part of the Act.

1. See, for example, Nixon v. Attorney-General, (1930) 1 Ch 566 (593), (per Lord Hanworth M.R.); Sunderson v. Fotheringham, (1885) 11 VLR 190; Darke v. Thornton, (1883) 1 QLR 159.

2. Ats Interpretation Act, 1958, section 11(2), (Victoria).

3. See also section 13(3) of the Austrian Act.

4. See the rulings given by the Speaker on the 7th February, 1950 and 10th February, 1960 (Lok Sabha Debates-Part II, dated 7th February, 1950, pp. 409-419) (during discussion on the Delhi Road Transport Authority Bill and the Undesirable Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Bill, respectively.

5.6A. In an earlier English case,1 Phillimore, L.J. had observed, "I am aware of the general rule of law as to marginal notes, at any rate in public general Acts of Parliament, but that rule is founded, as well be seen on reference to the cases, upon the principle that these notes are inserted not by Parliament nor under the authority of Parliament but by irresponsible persons. Where, however, the marginal notes are mentioned as already existing and established, it may well be that they form part of an Act of Parliament."

1. Working Urban Council Act (in re:), (1914) 1 Ch 300 (322).

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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