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Report No. 183

It will be appropriate to extract the relevant passages of the above reference to the above effect as follows:

"There has been a conflict as to the admissibility of extrinsic aids in construction of the provisions of the statutes. The extrinsic aids to construe a statute may include debates in Parliament, report of the parliamentary Committees, Commissions, Statement of Objects and Reasons, Notes on Clauses, any international treaty or international agreement which is referred to in the statute, any other document relevant to the subject matter of the statute, etc.".

"It has also been felt that our courts have not been following uniform approach to principles of statutory construction especially regarding tools relating to external aids."...

"At the same time our courts have often been referring to text books, decision of the foreign courts rather than the judgement of our Supreme Court. In these circumstances, it needs to be 5 6 considered whether there should be independent legislation or provisions which may be part of the General Clauses Act, clearly providing whether extrinsic aids or other aids may be admitted for construction of a statute."

"Further, the Law Commission Report was given way back in 1974 on a reference made in 1959. Since then, many new statues have come into force bringing to the fore issues such as information technology, in the light of which even the Evidence Act has been amended. Further some of the rules of interpretation on the use of extrinsic aids such as parliamentary debates, preparatory works, reports of the Law Commission of India and Parliamentary reports have undergone changes. It is also felt that if the 60th Report (1974) of the Law Commission is now implemented, there may be criticism that the Report has lost its relevance because of a long gap."

"In the light of above, it is considered appropriate to request the Law Commission of India to re-examine its 60th Report and to state whether at this stage the General Clauses Act should also contain the principles of interpretation of statutes or the said report, as it is at this stage would serve the purpose or the said report needs otherwise to be revised. The Commission may, accordingly, reexamine whether the earlier report needs any modification and if so, further suggestion/recommendations in the matter may be made by the Commission."

It may be pointed out that the Law Commission in Chapter 2 of the said 60th Report examined the issue regarding the feasibility of having a comprehensive code on the interpretation of statutes which may be inserted in the General Clauses Act, but found it to be impracticable on various grounds. However, in the said Report, the Law Commission, recommended certain changes in the General Clauses Act, 1897 and a tentative draft of Amendment Bill was also annexed with the said Report.

While examining the terms of this reference, the following main issues need consideration:

(A) Whether the General Clauses Act, 1897 should also provide the principles of interpretation of a statute as regards the extrinsic aids of interpretation and;

(B) Whether recommendations made in the said 60th Report need any revision or whether those have lost relevance now?



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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