Statutory Interpretation

Where statutory provision is plain and unambiguous- Court shall not interpret the same in a different manner

In Nasiruddin vs. Sita Ram Agarwal, (2003) 2 SCC 577, the three judge-Bench of this Court pointed out in paragraphs 35 and 37 (SCC P. 588) and (SCC P. 589) as under:-

“35. In a case where the statutory provision is plain and unambiguous, the Court shall not interpret the same in a different manner, only because of harsh consequences arising therefrom.”

“37. The Court’s jurisdiction to interpret a statute can be invoked when the same is ambiguous. It is well known that in a given case the Court can iron out the fabric but it cannot change the texture of the fabric. It cannot enlarge the scope of legislation or intention when the language of the provision is plain and unambiguous. It cannot add or subtract words to a statute or read something into it which is not there. It cannot rewrite or recast legislation. It is also necessary to determine that there exists a presumption that the legislature has not used any superfluous words. It is well settled that the real intention of the legislation must be gathered from the language used. It may be true that use of the expression ‘shall or may’ is not decisive for arriving at a finding as to whether the statute is directory or mandatory. But the intention of the legislature must be found out from the scheme of the Act. It is also equally well settled that when negative words are used the Courts will presume that the intention of the legislature was that the provisions are mandatory in character.”

(See also Mohan Kumar Singhania vs. Union of India, (1992) 1 Suppl. SCC 594 (SCC p.624) para 67)

  1. In the case of Balram Kumawat vs. Union of India (2003) 7 SCC 628, the three-Judge Bench of this Court pointed out in paragraph 23 at SCC P. 635 as under:

“Furthermore, even in relation to a penal statute any narrow and pedantic, literal and lexical construction may not always be given effect to. The law would have to be interpreted having regard to the subject-matter of the offence and the object of the law it seeks to achieve. The purpose of the law is not to allow the offender to sneak out of the meshes of law. Criminal jurisprudence does not say so.”

Categories: Statutory Interpretation

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