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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Literal Rule contd....

" It is trite that the social mission of food laws should inform the interpretative process so that the legal blow may fall on every adulterator. Any narrow and pedantic, literal and lexical construction likely to leave loopholes for this dangerous criminal tribe to sneak out of the meshes of the law should be discouraged. For the new criminal jurisprudence must depart from the old canons, which make indulgent presumptions and favoured constructions benefiting accused persons and defeating criminal statutes calculated to protect the public health and the nation's wealth.[1]"

This Court held that in matters involving economic crime, food offence and other cases, the doctrine of plea bargaining should not be applied[2].

Yet again in the law is stated in the following terms:

"19. Exposition ex visceribus actus is a long recognised rule of construction. Words in a statute often take their meaning from the context of the statute as a whole. They are therefore, not to be construed in isolation. For instance, the use of the word "may" would normally indicate that the provision was not mandatory. But in the context of a particular statute, this word may connote a legislative imperative, particularly when its construction in a permissive sense would relegate it to the unenviable position, as it were, "of an ineffectual angel beating its wings in a luminous void in vain". "If the choice is between two interpretations", said Viscount Simon L. C. in Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries, Ltd[3]. "the narrower of which would fail to achieve the manifest purpose of the legislation, we should avoid a construction which would reduce the legislation to futility and should rather accept the bolder construction based on the view that Parliament would legislate only for the purpose of bringing about an effective result.[4]"

[1] Murlidhar Meghraj Loya Vs. State of Maharashtra [(1976) 3 SCC 684 while dealing with the provisions of Food Adulteration Act ]

[2] State of U.P. vs. Chandrika [(1999) 8 SCC 638] While holding so it referred with approval Madanlal Ramchandra Daga vs. State of Maharashtra [AIR 1968 SC 1267 = (1968) 3 SCR 34], Murlidhar Meghraj Loya (supra), Ganeshmal Jashraj vs. Government of Gujarat [(1980) 1 SCC 363], Thippaswamy vs. State of Karnataka [(1983) 1 SCC 194] and Kasambhai Abdulrehmanbhai Sheikh vs. State of Gujarat [(1980) 3 SCC 120].

[3] Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries, Ltd. ((1940) AC 1014, 1022)

[4] Superintendent and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs to Govt. of West Bengal Vs. Abani Maity [AIR 1979 SC 1029: (1979) 4 SCC 85, This decision was followed in State of Karnataka and Others vs. Saveen Kumar Shetty [(2002) 3 SCC 426].

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