CIVIL

Exposition ex visceribus-Words in a statute often take their meaning from the context of the statute

In remembrance of Legal Affairs to Govt. of W.B. vs. Abani Maity, (1979) 4 SCC 85 the law is stated in the following terms: (SCC p.90, para 18)

“19(18). 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 vs. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries, Ltd. (AC at p. 1022)

‘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.”

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