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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.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chapter-15 Interpreting constitution-Authorities-part-10

It is well settled that these heads of legislation should not be construed in a narrow and pedantic sense but should be given a large and liberal interpretation. As was observed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in British Coal Corporation v. The King[1] "Indeed, in interpreting a constituent or organic statute such as the Act, that construction most beneficial to the widest possible amplitude of its powers must be adopted."The Federal Court also in the United Provinces V. Atiqa Begum [2]. pointed out that none of the items in the Lists is to be read in a narrow or restricted sense and that each general word should be held to extend to all ancillary or subsidiary matters which can fairly and reasonably be said to be comprehended in it.

Supreme Court of India in Navinchandra Mafatlal v. The Commissioner of Income-tax, Bombay City[supra] also expressed the same opinion and stated."The cardinal rule of interpretation, however, is that words should be read in their ordinary, natural and grammatical meaning subject to this rider, that in construing words in a constitutional enactment conferring legislative power the most liberal construction should be put upon words so that the same may have effect in their widest amplitude[3].

"Having regard to the principle of construction enunciated above, it is clear that the impugned Act is covered by Entry 18 in List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and is a legislation with reference to "land " and this plea of legislative incompetence of the State Legislature to enact the impugned Act therefore fails. If, then, the State Legislature was competent to enact the impugned Act, is the Act ultra vires the Constitution as infringing any of the fundamental rights conferred upon the petitioners ? In the course Of the arguments before us learned counsel for the petitioners confined their attack only to the constitutionality of ss. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 17A, 31A to 31D and 3 to 32R of the impugned Act [-Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment)Act, 1956 (Bom. XIII of 1956) as violative of the fundamental right guaranteed under Art. 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The first question to consider in this context however is whether the impugned Act is protected by Art. 31-A of the Constitution because if it in so protected, no challenge on the score of the provisions thereof violating Arts. 14,19 and 31 of the Constitution would be available to the petitioners[4].

Constitution of India and other ongoing statutes have been read consistently with the rules of international law.Constitution is a source of, and not an exercise of, legislative power.[5]The provisions of constitutional changes have to be construed not in a narrow isolationism but on a much wider spectrum and the principles laid down in Heydon's case are instructive[6]. In construing the expressions of the Constitution to judge whether the provisions of a statute are within the competence of the State Legislature, one must bear in mind that the Constitution is to be construed not in a narrow orpedantic sense. The Constitution is not to be construed as mere law but as the machinery by which laws are to be made[7]. Our Constitution is an ongoing document and, thus, should be interpreted liberally. Interpretation of Article 12, having regard to the exclusive control and management of sport of cricket by the Board and enormous power exercised by it calls for a new approach. The Constitution, it is trite, should be interpreted in the light of our whole experience and not merely in that of what was the state of law at the commencement of the Constitution[8]. Furthermore in John Vallamattom and Anr. Vs. Union of India[9] while referring to an amendment made in U.K. in relation to a provision which was in pari materia with Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, this Court observed:"...The constitutionality of a provision, it is trite, will have to be judged keeping in view the interpretive changes of the statute effected by passage of time." Referring to the changing scenario of the law and having regard to the declaration on the right to development adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights and Article 18 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, this Court held:

"It is trite that having regard to Article 13(1) of the Constitution, the constitutionality of the impugned legislation is required to be considered on the basis of laws existing on 26th January, 1950, but while doing so the court is not precluded from taking into consideration the subsequent events which have taken place thereafter. It is further trite that that the law although may be constitutional when enacted but with passage of time the same may be held to be unconstitutional in view of the changed situation.

Justice Cardoze said :

"The law has its epochs of ebb and flow, the flood tides are on us. The old order may change yielding place to new; but the transition is never an easy process".

Albert Campus stated :

"The wheel turns, history changes". Stability and change are the two sides of the same law-coin. In their pure form they are antagonistic poles; without stability the law becomes not a chart of conduct, but a gare of chance: with only stability the law is as the still waters in which there is only stagnation and death."

In any view of the matter even if a provision was not unconstitutional on the day on which it was enacted or the Constitution came into force, by reason of facts emerging out thereafter, the same may be rendered unconstitutional."

In Liverpool & London S.P. & I Association Ltd. vs. M.V. Sea Success I and Another[10] Court observed:

"There cannot be any doubt whatsoever that a law which was at one point of time constitutional may be rendered unconstitutional because of passage of time. We may note that apart from the decisions cited by Mr. Sanghi, recently a similar view has been taken in Kapila Hingorani Vs. State of Bihar and John Vallamattom and Anr. Vs. Union of India[11]."

[1] British Coal Corporation v. The King [1935] A.C. 500,518.

[2] United Provinces V. Atiqa Begum 1940] F.C.R. 110,134

[3] (See also Thakur Amar Singhji v. State of Rajasthan [1955]2S.C.R 303,329..

[4] Sri Ram Ram Narain Medhivs.State Of Bombay, 1959 AIR 459,1959 SCR Supl. (1) 489

[5] Special Leave Petition (crl.) 3749 of 2001Pratap Singh.vs State of Jharkhand & Anr., 02/02/2005

[6] Black Clawson International Ltd. v. PapierwerkeWaldhof-Aschaffenburg, [1975] 1 All E.R. 810, referred. Heydon's case, (1584) 3 Co. Rep. 7a, relied on.

[7] James v. Commonwealth of Australia, [1936] A.C. 578; The Attorney General for the State of New South Wales v. The Brewery Employees Union etc., [1908] 6 C.L.R. 469; Re.Central Provinces & Berar Sales of Motor Spirit and Lubricants Taxation Act 1938, A.I.R. 1939 F.C.I. and The Province

of Madras v. M/s Boddu Paidanna & Sons, A.I.R. 1942 F.C. 33,referred to.

[8]See Missouri vs. Holland (252 US 416 (433) and Kapila Hingorani vs. State of Bihar [(2003) 6 SCC 1.

[9] John Vallamattom and Anr. Vs. Union of India [JT 2003 (6) SC 37]

[10] Liverpool & London S.P. & I Association Ltd. vs. M.V. Sea Success I and Another, (2004) 9 SCC 512,

[11] Referring to Motor General Traders vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and Others [(1984) 1 SCC 222], Rattan Arya and Others vs. State of Tamil Nadu and Another [(1986) 3 SCC 385] and Synthetics and

Chemicals Ltd. vs. State of U.P. [(1990) 1 SCC 109], Kapila Hingorani Vs. State of Bihar [JT 2003 (5) SC 1] and John Vallamattom and Anr. Vs. Union of India [JT 2003 (6) SC 37]

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