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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

Plain Meaning Rule and Applicability

When a legislative text has a plain meaning, the courts are prohibited from interpreting it; they are bound by the words of the text. Given this fundamental rule, it is perhaps surprising that even when the meaning is plain, the courts may look at non-textual evidence of legislative intent (like purpose or consequences or extrinsic aids) and may rely on these other factors to support the plain meaning. What they may not do is rely on these factors to vary or contradict the plain meaning of the text. This approach to extra-textual evidence offers some evident advantages to proponents of the plain meaning rule: heads they win, tails they still win. eature of the plain meaning rule, and the feature that sets it apart from other approaches to statutory interpretation, is its claim that the court's first responsibility is to give effect to the apparent meaning of a legislative text whenever this meaning is plain. If there is a conflict between what the text appears to say and what the legislature seems to have intended, the text wins. Intention governs only when the text itself is ambiguous. It is the duty of the Court to interpret these enactments in such a way that the interpretation placed upon is not against the public interest and there is least possibility of its misuse. The same is the danger with the literal approach of interpretation.

There may be advantage of the plain meaning rule.It creates an element of certainty. It tells the public in afvance that if the text is plain, it means what it says and it is safe to rely on it. The courts won`t come along and trick you at the last minute by importing unsuspected subjective qualifications or implications into the text, even if these qualifications or implications were probably intended by the legislature. This emphasis on text at the expense of intention ensures that the law is certain and that the public has fair notice, both of which are prerequisites for effective law.The courts cannot and should not deviate from the precedent theory unless thre are compelling circumstances of doing so.

A second advantage of the theory is that it supports formal equality. If the courts are bound by plain meaning, and plain meaning is the same for everyone, it follows that a rule whose meaning is plain expresses the same law for everyone and will be applied in the same way, to the same effect to everyone.

A third advantage of the plain meaning rule is that it can be used as an apparently neutral proxy for strict construction. It is no coincidence that the plain meaning rule is applied most persistently and enthusiastically to fiscal legislation, with penal legislation running a close second. . However, in many instances a court can achieve the same result by relying on the plain meaning rule without having to invoke the common law values. By claiming that the text is plain and does not require interpretation, a court purports to base the outcome in a case on semanticsc competence alone. There is no hard and fast rule which can predict the outcome of interpretation which is based on the other interpretive approches. After all these are all man made. These are not code of laws in themselves. Let us see how the rule have been applied in practice.

"If the precise words used are plain and unambiguous, in our judgment we are bound to construe them in their ordinary sense, even though it does lead to an absurdity or manifest injustice[1]

[1] Abley v Dale (1851) Jervis CJ

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