Statutory Interpretation

Interpretation must depend on the text and the context

In Reserve Bank of India vs. Peerless General Finance and Investment Co. Ltd. (1987) 1 SCC 424, this Court said: (SCC p.450, para 33)

“33. Interpretation must depend on the text and the context. They are the basis of interpretation. One may well say if the text is the texture, context is what gives the colour. Neither can be ignored. Both are important. That interpretation is best which makes the textual interpretation match the contextual. A statute is best interpreted when we know why it was enacted. With this knowledge, the statute must be read, first as a whole and then section by section, clause by clause, phrase by phrase and word by word. If a statute is looked at, in the context of its enactment, with the glasses of the statute-maker, provided by such context, its scheme, the sections, clauses, phrases and words may take colour and appear different than when the statute is looked at without the glasses provided by the context. With these glasses we must look at the Act as a whole and discover what each section, each clause, each phrase and each word is meant and designed to say as to fit into the scheme of the entire Act. No part of a statute and no word of a statute can be construed in isolation. Statutes have to be construed so that every word has a place and everything is in its place.”

  1. In Anwar Hasan Khan vs. Mohd. Shafi and others (2001) 8 SCC 540, this Court held:

“8… It is a cardinal principle of construction of a statute that effort should be made in construing its provisions by avoiding a conflict and adopting a harmonious construction. The statute or rules made thereunder should be read as a whole and one provision should be construed with reference to the other provision to make the provision consistent with the object sought to be achieved…”

Categories: Statutory Interpretation

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