In relation to statutory construction, our position might be contrasted with that of the State and Territory Supreme Courts. The difference is only one of degree for, in modern times, State Parliaments have displayed a like penchant to their Federal counterpart. But the position remains, albeit much eroded by the loss of subjects of jurisdiction to Commonwealth courts and tribunals and by statutory intrusions, that these are courts of general jurisdiction.
it is not the duty of the court either to enlarge the scope of the legislation or the intention of the legislature when the language of the provision is plain and unambiguous. The court cannot rewrite, recast or reframe the legislation for the very good reason that it has no power to legislate. The power to legislate has not been conferred on the courts. The court cannot add words to a statute or read words into it which are not there.
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.
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.
The Constitution of the United States was not ordained and established by the States, but, as the preamble declares, by “the people of the United States.” It was competent for the people to invest the general government with all the powers which they might deem proper and necessary; to extend or restrain these powers, according to their own good pleasure, and to give them a paramount and supreme authority.
The preamble has been said to be a good means to find out the intention of a statute, and, as it were, a key to the understanding of it. It usually states, or professes to state, the general object and meaning of the Legislature in passing the measure.
What authority has the Master of the Rolls for saying that the courts do look at the marginal notes?” Per Bramwell, L.J.: “What would happen if the marginal notes differed from the section, which is a possibility, as is shown in section 112 of this Act? Does the marginal note repeal the section, or does the section repeal the marginal note?”
The headings of a portion of a statute may be referred to in order to determine the sense of any doubtful expressions in sections ranged under it. (Hammersmith and City Railway Co. v. Brand, L.R. 4 H.L. 171, 203; but see—per Lord Cairns, id. p. 217. Eastern Counties Rail. Co. v. Marriage, 9 H.L. Ca. 32. Union Steamship Co. of N.Z. v. Melbourne Harbour Trust, 9 App. Ca. 365.)
“An Act.” An Act may, for the purpose of analysis and classification, be considered as consisting of the following parts:— (1) Title, (2) Preamble, (3) Words of enacting authority, (4) The Covering Clauses (5) The Constitutent divisions : Chapters, Headings,…
The enacting part of an Act is not to be controlled by the title or recitals unless the enacting part is ambiguous, and then the title and recitals may be referred to for the purpose of ascertaining the intention of the legislature. (Bentley v. Rotherham Local Board
Thus when there is an ambiguity in terms of a provision, one must look at well-settled principles of construction but it is not open to first create an ambiguity which does not exist and then try to resolve the same by taking recourse to some general principle.
When a statute enacts that something shall be deemed to have been done, which in fact and truth was not done, the Court is entitled and bound to ascertain for what purposes and between what persons the statutory fiction is to be resorted to...