Judicial Dictionary

Statutory Definition: the meaning of 

The Concept of Statutory Definition

Supreme Court in K. Balakrishna Rao v. Haji Abdulla Sait (1980) 1 SCC 321 while considering the definition clause of this Act which is under our consideration, held:-

“A definition clause does not necessarily in any statute apply in all possible contexts in which the word which is defined may be found therein. The opening clause of Section 2 of the principal Act itself suggests that any expression defined in that section should be given the meaning assigned to it therein unless the context otherwise requires”.

All STATUTORY DEFINITIONS must be read subject to qualification expressed in the definition clause.

All STATUTORY DEFINITIONS or abbreviations must be read subject to the qualification variously expressed in the definition clauses which created them and it may be that even where the definition is exhaustive inasmuch as the word defined is said to mean a certain thing, it is possible for the word to have a somewhat different meaning in different sections of the Act depending upon the subject or the context. That is why all DEFINITIONS in statutes generally begin with the qualifying words similar to the words used in the present case, namely, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context.

In view of this qualification, the court has not only to look at the words but also to look at the content, the collocation and the object of such words relating to such matter and interpret the meaning intended to be conveyed by the use of the words under the circumstances. [AIR 1960 SC 971 : (1960)3 SCR 857]

All DEFINITIONS in statutes generally begin with the qualifying words , namely, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context. Therefore in finding out the meaning of a word in various sections of the Act, the meaning to be ordinarily given to it is that given in the definition clause. But this is not inflexible and there may be sections in the Act where the meaning may have to be departed from on account of the subject or context in which the word has been used and that will be giving effect to the opening sentence in the definition section, namely, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context. In view of this qualification, the court has not only to look at the words but also to look at the context, the collocation and the object of such words relating to such matter and interpret the meaning intended to be conveyed by the use of the words under the circumstances. Therefore, for example though ordinarily the word “insurer” as used in an Act would mean a person or body corporate actually carrying on the business of insurance it may be that in certain sections the word may have a somewhat different meaning. [AIR 1960 SC 971 : (1960)3 SCR 857]

Dictionary Of Statutory Definitions @ www.advocatetanmoy.com

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