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Report No. 183

In another case, the apex Court has also observed:

"Statutes, it is often said, should be construed not as theorems of Euclid but with some imagination of purpose which lies behind them and to be too literal in the meaning of words is to see the skin and miss the soul." (see Tata Engg. and Locomotive Co. Ltd. v State of Bihar, (2000) 5 SCC 346). (para 15)

Further, rules of interpretation are not rules of law; they are mere aids to construction and constitute some broad points. It is the task of the court to decide which rules are, in the light of all circumstances, or ought to prevail (see Keshavji Ravji & Co. v. CIT, (1990) 2 SCC 231).

The Law Commission in its 60th Report has stated at para 2.9:

"Statutes are the expression of the will of an authority constituted by society to announce general obligatory legal rules. The binding force of statute law attaches to the formula in which the law is expressed. The task of interpretation of a statute is of, extracting, from the formula, all that it contains of legal rules, with a view to adapting it, as perfectly as possible, to the facts of life. Therefore, the insertion of rigid rules may go against the very concept of interpretation."

A statute is a will of legislature conveyed in the form of text. Words in any language are not scientific symbols having any precise and definite meaning, but are capable of referring to a different meaning in different context of times. Two views are often possible. Language of a statutory provision may be ambiguous. All these things give room for interpretation. Parliamentary draftsmen have been criticized in various cases by the court. In Institute of Chartered Accountants of India v. Price Waterhouse, (AIR 1998 SC 74) the apex court observed:

"Interpretation postulates the search for the true meaning of the words used in the statute as a medium of expression to communicate a particular thought. The task is not easy as the 'language' is often misunderstood even in ordinary conversation or correspondence. The tragedy is that although in the matter of correspondence or conversation the person who has spoken the words or used the language can be approached for clarification, the Legislature cannot be approached as the Legislature, after enacting a law or Act, becomes functus officio, so far as that particular Act is concerned and it cannot interpret it."

(para 47)



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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