Statutory Interpretation

When language of the provision is plain and unambiguous, the question of supplying ‘casus omissus’ does not arise

Apex Court in the case of Union of India and Anr. v. Shardindu held that when language of the provision is plain and unambiguous, the question of supplying ‘casus omissus’ does not arise and the Court can interpret a law but cannot legislate. Therefore, recent trend for supplying gape in legislation is concerned, the Court will be loath in exercise of power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

In the case of State of Jharkhand and Anr. v. Govind Singh reported in 2805 (10) SCC 437, the Apex Court has held in Paras 21 and 22 as under:

 Two principles of construction – one relating to casus omissus and the other in regard to reading the statute as a whole – appear to be well settled. Under the first principle, a casus omissus cannot be supplied by the Court except in the case of clear necessity and when reason for it is found in the four corners of the statute itself but at the same time a casus omissus should not be readily inferred and for that purpose all the parts of a statute or Section must be construed together and every Clause of a Section should be construed with reference to the context and other clauses thereof so that the construction to be put on a particular provision makes a consistent enactment of the while statute. This would be more so if literal construction of a particular clause leads to manifestly absurd or anomalous results which could not have been intended by the legislature. “An intention to produce an unreasonable result”, said Danckwerts, L.J. In Artemiou v. Procopiou All ER 544 I, “is not to be imputed to a statute if there is some other construction available”. Where to apply words literally would “defeat the obvious intention of the legislation and produce a wholly unreasonable result” we must “do some violence to the words” and so achieve that obvious intention and produce a rational construction. (Per Lord Reid in Luke v. I.R.C. where at AC 577 All ER 664 I he also observed. “This is not a new problem, though our standard of drafting in such that it rarely emerges.”)

It is then true that, “when the words of a law extend not to an inconvenience rarely happening, but due to those which often happen, it is good reason not to strain the words further than they reach, by saying it is casus omissus, and that the law intended quae frequentius accidunt”. “But”, on the other hand, sit is no reason, when the words of a law do enough extend to an inconvenience seldom happening, that they should not extend to it as well as if it happened more frequently, because it happens but seldom”. See Fenton v. Hampton. A casus omissus ought not to be created by interpretation, save in some case of strong necessity. Where, however, a casus omissus does really occur, either through the inadvertence of the legislature, or on the principle quod semel aut bis existit praeterunt legislators, the rule is that the particular case, thus left unprovided for, must be disposed of according to the law as it existed before such statute-caws omissus et oblivioni datus dispositioni communis juris relinquitur; “a casus omissus”, observed Buller, J. in Jones v. Smart TR at 52 : ER at 967, “can in no case be supplied by a Court of Law, for that would be to make laws”.