Sympathy: while construing a statute

While construing a statute, ‘sympathy’ has no role to play.

Supreme Court cannot interpret the provisions of the said Act ignoring the binding decisions of the Constitution Bench of this Court only by way of sympathy to the concerned workmen.

45. In A. Umarani vs. Registrar, Co-operative Societies and others (2004) 7 SCC 112, this Court rejected a similar contention upon noticing the following judgments :

“In a case of this nature this court should not even exercise its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India on misplaced sympathy.

In Teri Oat Estates (P) Ltd. vs. U.T., Chandigarh and others (2004) 2 SCC 130, it is stated;

“We have no doubt in our mind that sympathy or sentiment by itself cannot be a ground for passing an order in relation whereto the appellants miserably fail to establish a legal right. It is further trite that despite an extra-ordinary constitutional jurisdiction contained in Article 142 of the Constitution of India, this Court ordinarily would not pass an order, which would be in contravention of a statutory provision.

As early as in 1911, Farewell L.J. in Latham vs. Richard Johnson and Nephew Ltd. 1911-13 AER reprint p.117) observed :

“We must be careful not to allow our sympathy with the infant plaintiff to affect our judgment. Sentiment is a dangerous Will O’ the Wisp to take as a guide in the search for legal principles.”

Yet again recently in Ramakrishna Kamat and others vs. State of Karnataka and others JT 2003 (2) SC 88, this Court rejected a similar plea for regularization of services stating :

“… We repeatedly asked the learned counsel for the appellants on what basis or foundation in law the appellants made their claim for regularization and under what rules their recruitment was made so as to govern their service conditions. They were not in a position to answer except saying that the appellants have been working for quite some time in various schools started pursuant to resolutions passed by zilla parishads in view of the government orders and that their cases need to be considered sympathetically. It is clear from the order of the learned single Judge and looking to the very directions given a very sympathetic view was taken. We do not find it either just or proper to show any further sympathy in the given facts and circumstances of the case. While being sympathetic to the persons who come before the court the courts cannot at the same time be unsympathetic to the large number of eligible persons waiting for a long time in a long queue seeking employment…”


Source: M/s. Maruti Udyog Ltd.-AIR 2005 SC 851 : (2005) 1 SCR 790 : (2005) 2 SCC 638 : JT 2005 (1) SC 449 : (2005) 1 SCALE 585