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Report No. 183

(2) Reference to other statutes

It is a settled principle that for the purpose of interpretation or construction of a statutory provision, courts can refer to or can take help of other statutes. It is also known as statutory aids. The General Clauses Act, 1897 is an example of statutory aid. Apart from this, Court can take recourse to other statutes which are in pari mataria i.e. statute dealing with the same subject matter or forming part of the same system. Supreme Court in Common Cause, A Registered Society v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 3081, took recourse to section 13A and 139 (4B) of the Income Tax Act 1961 for the purpose of interpretation of Explanation I to section 77 (1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The application of this rule of construction has the merit of avoiding any contradiction between a series of statutes dealing with the same subject, it allows the use of an earlier statute to throw light on the meaning of a phrase used in a later statute in the same context. On the same logic when words in an earlier statute have received an authoritative exposition by a superior court, use of same words in similar context in a later statute will give rise to a presumption that the legislature intends that the same interpretation should be followed for construction of those words in the later statute. (see Bengal Imunity Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, AIR 1955 SC 661). However, a later statute is normally not used as an aid to construction of an earlier statute, but when an earlier statue is truly ambiguous, a later statute may in certain circumstances serve as a parliamentary exposition of the former.

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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