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Report No. 183

(7) Later Development and Scientific Inventions

It is often possible that after the enactment of a statute, political and economic developments in the society may take place. New scientific inventions may also come out. The legislature might not have been aware of all these developments and inventions, when the law was made. Therefore, courts take into account all these development while construing statutory provisions. In this regard, Bhagwati J. (as he then was) in S.P. Gupta v. Union of India, AIR 1982 SC 149 has stated:

"The interpretation of every statutory provision must keep pace with changing concepts and values and it must, to the extent to which its language permits or rather does not prohibit, suffer adjustments through judicial interpretation so as to accord with the requirement of the fast changing society which is undergoing rapid social and economic transformation.

It is elementary that law does not operate in a vacuum. It is, therefore, intended to serve a social purpose and it cannot be interpreted without taking into account the social, economic and political setting in which it is intended to operate. It is here that the Judge is called upon to perform a creative function. He has to inject flesh and blood in the dry skeleton provided by the legislature and by a process of dynamic interpretation, invest it with a meaning which will harmonise the law with the prevailing concepts and values and make it an effective instrument for delivery of justice."

(para 62)

Again, in S.P. Jain v. Krishan Mohan Gupta and others, AIR 1987 SC 222, the Supreme Court has held:

"We are of the opinion that law should take pragmatic view of the matter and respond to the purpose for which it was made and also take cognizance of the current capabilities of technology and life style of community".

(para 18)

With the change of times, Article 21 of the Constitution which was at one time interpreted in a very narrow way, has now been interpreted in such a way, that the right to life includes everything which makes a man's life meaningful, complete and worth living. The Supreme Court in J.K. Cotton Spinning & Wvg Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 191 observed at para 45 that in a modern progressive society it would be unreasonable to confine the intention of the legislature to the meaning attributed to the word used at the time the law was made and unless a contrary intention appears, an interpretation should be given to the words used to take in new facts and situations, if the words are capable of comprehending them.

Therefore, court has to take into account social, political and economic developments and scientific inventions which take place after enactment of a statute for proper construction of its provision.

A continuum on the General Clauses Act, 1897 with special reference to the admissibility and codification of external aids to interpretation of statutes Back

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