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The most comprehensive coverage on the construction of Statutes. It includes parts of statutes,Extrinsic-Aids,Intrinsic aids, Reading down, Amendments,Repeals,codifications,Quasi-Judicial agencies,Non-obstante clause,Mandatory/Declatory provisions,Tax ,Beneficial, Criminal,Fiscal Statute's Interpretation and sub-ordinate legislations.Besides it contains the Rules of Interpretation and the Role of Judiciary.Citations are in abundance.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chapter-10 Part-5

“that the golden rule of interpretation is that words should be read in their ordinary, natural and grammatical meaning subject to the rider that in construing words in a Constitution conferring legislative power the most liberal construction should be put upon the words so that they may have effect in their widest amplitude. This is subject to certain exceptions and a restricted meaning may be given to words if it is necessary to prevent a conflict between two exclusive entries.[1]

Within the context of law, the Golden rule, also known as the British rule, means that the words of a statute should be understood in their ordinary sense.

"It is a very useful rule in the construction of a statute to adhere to the ordinary meaning of the words used, and to the grammatical construction, unless that is at variance with the intention of the legislature to be collected from the statute itself, or leads to any manifest absurdity or repugnance, in which case the language may be varied or modified so as to avoid such inconvenience but no further[2]"

Meaning Of Golden Rule

The golden rule is an adaption of the plain meaning rule. It provides that wordings should be given their ordinary meaning as far as possible, but only to the extent that they do not produce an absurd or totally obnoxious result.

"… the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words is to be adhered to, unless that would lead to some absurdity or inconsistency with the rest of the statute[3] in which case the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words may be modified, so as to avoid that absurdity or inconsistency [4]"

According to the plain meaning rule, words must be given their plain, ordinary and literal meaning. If the words are clear, they must be applied, even though the intention of the legislator may have been different or the result is harsh or undesirable.

Prof. Larry Solum's Legal Theory Lexicon expands on this premise:

Some laws are meant for all citizens (e.g., criminal statutes) and some are meant only for specialists (e.g., some sections of the tax code). A text that means one thing in a legal context, might mean something else if it were in a technical manual or a novel. So the plain meaning of a legal text is something like the meaning that would be understood by competent speakers of the natural language in which the text was written who are within the intended readership of the text and who understand that the text is a legal text of a certain type.

The case of Grey does not necessarily say that the Judge can decide differently because of a perceived absurdity in consequences. You must still stay within the four corners of the Act. For example, Lord Blackburn said in River Wier Commissioners v. Adamson[5] :

"But it is to be borne in mind that the office of the judges is not to legislate, but to declare the expressed intention of the Legislature, even if that intention appears to the court injudicious; and I believe that it is not disputed that what Lord Wensleydale used to say is right, namely that we are to take the whole statute together, and construe it all together, giving the words their ordinary signification, unless when supplied they produce an inconsistency, or an absurdity or inconvenience so great as to convince the court that the intention could not have been to use them in their ordinary signification, and to justify the court in putting on them some other signification, which, though less proper, is one which the court thinks the words will bear."

[1] Constitutional Law of India by Seervai, the learned author has said in para 2.12 (3rd ed.)

[2] - Becke v Smith (1836) 2 M&W 195 per Parke B.

[3] the original word in the text is ‘instrument.’

[4] - Lord Wensleydale in Grey v. Pearson (1857; 6 HL CAS 61)

[5] River Wier Commissioners v. Adamson [l877] 2 A.C. 742 at 746:

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