Interpretation of Statutes – Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws Important Questions

Interpretation of Statutes – Jurisprudence, Interpretation & General Laws Important Questions

Question 1.
Discuss in brief the primary rule of literal construction In the Interpretation of a statute. [Dec 2013 (6 Marks)]
Answer:

  1. In construing statutes the cardinal rule is to construe its provisions literally and grammatically giving the words their ordinary and natural meaning. This rule is also known as the plain meaning rule.
  2. According to the primary rule, the words, phrases, and sentences of a statute are to be understood in their natural, ordinary, or popular and grammatical meaning, unless such a construction leads to an absurdity or the statute suggests a different meaning.
  3. The words ‘natural’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘popular’ are used interchangeably. They mean the grammatical or literal meaning, except when there are technical words.
    Some of the other basic principles of literal construction are:
  4. Every word in the law should be given meaning as no word is unnecessarily used.
  5. One should not presume any omissions and if a word is not there in the Statute, it shall not be given any meaning.

The first and most elementary rule of constructions is that the words and phrases of technical legislation are used in their technical meaning if they have acquired one, and otherwise in their ordinary meaning, and the second is that the phrases and sentences are to be construed according to the grammar rule.

If there is nothing to modify, alter or qualify the language which the statute contains, it must be construed in the ordinary and natural meaning of the words and sentences. Nothing is to be added to or taken from a statute unless there are adequate grounds to justify the interference.

Question 2.
Explain the Mischief Rule in the interpretation of statutes. [June 2010 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
The mischief rule of statutory interpretation is the oldest of the rules. The mischief rule is a rule of statutory interpretation that attempts to determine the legislator’s intention. Its main aim is to determine the “mischief and defect” of the statute.

The mischief rule was established in Heydon’s Case in 1584. It was held that the mischief rule should only be applied where there is ambiguity in the statute. Under the mischief rule, the Court’s role is to suppress the mischief and advance the remedy. The Courts while applying the principal tries to find out the real intention behind the enactment. This rule thus assists the court in identifying the proper construction of statutory wording according to the original intention of the legislators.

As per this rule, for the true interpretation of a statute, four things have to be considered:

  • What was the common law before the making of the Act?
  • What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide?
  • What remedy Parliament had resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the Commonwealth?
  • The true reason for the remedy.

The mischief rule directs that the Courts must adopt that construction which “shall suppress the mischief and advance the remedy”. But this does not mean that construction should be adopted which ignores the plain natural meaning of the words or disregard the context and the collection in which they occur. [Umed Singh v. Raj Singh]

In Sodra Devi’s case, the Supreme Court has expressed the view that the rule in Heydon’s case is applicable only when the words in question are ambiguous and are reasonably capable of more than one meaning.

Question 3.
“Heydon’s rule is not always operative in the interpretation of statutes.” Comment. [Dec 2011 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
The mischief rule was established in Heydon’s Case in 1584. It was held that the mischief rule should only be applied where there is ambiguity in the statute. Under the mischief rule, the Court’s role is to suppress the mischief and advance the remedy. The Courts while applying the principal tries to find out the real intention behind the enactment. This rule thus assists the court in identifying the proper construction of statutory wording according to the original intention of the legislators.

As per this rule, for the true interpretation of a statute, four things have to be considered:

  • What was the common law before the making of the Act?
  • What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide?
  • What remedy Parliament had resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the Commonwealth?
  • The true reason for the remedy.

Question 4.
Explain the ‘mischief rule’ under the Interpretation of Status. [Dec 2018 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
The mischief rule of statutory interpretation is the oldest of the rules. The mischief rule is a rule of statutory interpretation that attempts to determine the legislator’s intention. Its main aim is to determine the “mischief and defect” of the statute.

The mischief rule was established in Heydon’s Case in 1584. It was held that the mischief rule should only be applied where there is ambiguity in the statute. Under the mischief rule, the Court’s role is to suppress the mischief and advance the remedy. The Courts while applying the principal tries to find out the real intention behind the enactment. This rule thus assists the court in identifying the proper construction of statutory wording according to the original intention of the legislators.

As per this rule, for the true interpretation of a statute, four things have to be considered:

  • What was the common law before the making of the Act?
  • What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide?
  • What remedy Parliament had resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the Commonwealth?
  • The true reason for the remedy.

Question 5.
Explain the rule of harmonious construction. [Dec 2009 (4 Marks)]
Answer:

  1. When there is a conflict between two or more provisions of the law they should be followed in such a way that maximum benefit can be obtained and no rule needs to be violated in the process of following another one.
  2. It is a sound rule of interpretation that Courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of the Statute.
  3. A statute must be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.
  4. It is the duty of the Courts to avoid conflict between two provisions, and whenever it is possible to do so to construe provisions that appear to conflict so that they harmonize.
  5. Where in an enactment, there are two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that, if possible, the effect may be given to both. This is what is known as the “rule of harmonious construction”. Such a construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and s* other parts of the statute.

Question 6.
Explain the importance of the rule of harmonious construction in the interpretation of a statute with the help of decided case law. [Dec 2014 (4 Marks)]
Answer:

  1. When there is a conflict between two or more provisions of the law they should be followed in such a way that maximum benefit can be obtained and no rule needs to be violated in the process of following another one.
  2. It is a sound rule of interpretation that Courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of the Statute.
  3. A statute must be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.
  4. It is the duty of the Courts to avoid conflict between two provisions, and whenever it is possible to do so to construe provisions that appear to conflict so that they harmonize.
  5. Where in an enactment, there are two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that, if possible, the effect may be given to both. This is what is known as the “rule of harmonious construction”. Such a construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and s* other parts of the statute.

In Raj Krushna Bose v. Binod Kanungo And Others, it was held that it is the duty of the Courts to avoid a head-on crash between two sections of the same Act and, whenever it is possible to do so, to construct provisions which appear to conflict so that they harmonize.

Question 7.
Explain the rule of harmonious construction in the interpretation of statutes. [June 2011 (8 Marks)]
Answer:

  1. When there is a conflict between two or more provisions of the law they should be followed in such a way that maximum benefit can be obtained and no rule needs to be violated in the process of following another one.
  2. It is a sound rule of interpretation that Courts must try to avoid a conflict between the provisions of the Statute.
  3. A statute must be read as a whole and one provision of the Act should be construed with reference to other provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole statute.
  4. It is the duty of the Courts to avoid conflict between two provisions, and whenever it is possible to do so to construe provisions that appear to conflict so that they harmonize.
  5. Where in an enactment, there are two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that, if possible, the effect may be given to both. This is what is known as the “rule of harmonious construction”. Such a construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and s* other parts of the statute.

Question 8.
Explain the doctrine of “ut res Magisvaleat quant perfect”. [Dec 2006 (10 Marks)]
Or
Describe the “Rule of Reasonable Construction” under the Interpretation of Statutes. [Dec 2019 (5 Marks)]
Answer:

  1. Utes Magisvaleat Quimper at means that the thing may rather have an effect than be destroyed.
  2. The “ut res Magisvaleat Quampereaf (Rule of Reasonable Construction) implies that a statute must be construed reasonably. A statute or any enacting provision therein must be so construed as to make it effective and operative. The Court must try as far as possible, to keep the statute within the competence of the legislature concerned.
  3. As per this rule, the Court will reject the construction which will defeat the plain intention of the legislature even though there may be inexactitude in the language used.
  4. Preference should be given to such construction which affords consistency and certainty, facilitating the smooth working of the legal system.
  5. As far as possible all the words used in the statute must be given meaning as the legislature is not expected to use unnecessary words. Superfluous or insignificant words are not used by the makers of the statute.

Question 9.
“Rule of Ejusdem Generis is merely a rule of construction to aid the courts to find out the true intention of the legislature.” Explain. [Dec 2010 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
Ejusdem Generis means “of the same kind or species”. The rule of ‘Ejusdem generic ‘one of the primary rules for the interpretation of statutes. It is of great help to the Courts, to find out the true intention of the legislature. The rule can be explained as:

When general words follow specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general word takes its meaning from preceding expressions.

Examples:
1. If a law uses the words such as ‘oxen, bulls, goat, cows, buffaloes, horses, etc.’ the word ‘etc.’ cannot include wild animals like lion and tiger. Also, all the domestic animals will not be covered. The illustration given relates to all four-legged animals and hence other domestic animals like dogs, cats can be included but not cock or hen since cock or hen has no similarity with the illustrations of other domestic animals given.

2. If a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motor-powered vehicles, “vehicles” would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation.

It is merely a rule of construction to aid the Courts to find out the true intention of the Legislature (Jage Ram v. the State of Haryana)

The rule is applicable subject to the following conditions:

  • The statute contains the enumeration of specific words.
  • Members of the enumeration constitute a class.
  • Class is not exhausted by enumeration.
  • General term follows enumeration.
  • There is a distinct genus that comprises more than one species, and
  • There is no clearly manifested intention that the general term is given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires.

The rule is required to be applied with great caution because it implies a departure from a natural meaning of words, in order to give effect to the supposed intention of the legislature.

Question 10.
Explain the rule of Ejusdem Generis with the help of any case decided by the Supreme Court of India. [June 2013 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
Ejusdem Generis means “of the same kind or species”. The rule of ‘Ejusdem Generis ‘one of the primary rules for the interpretation of statutes. It is of great help to the Courts, to find out the true intention of the legislature. The rule can be explained as:

When general words follow specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general word takes its meaning from preceding expressions.

Examples:
1. If a law uses the words such as ‘oxen, bulls, goat, cows, buffaloes, horses, etc.’ the word ‘etc.’ cannot include wild animals like lion and tiger. Also, all the domestic animals will not be covered. The illustration given relates to all four-legged animals and hence other domestic animals like dogs, cats can be included but not cock or hen since cock or hen has no similarity with the illustrations of other domestic animals given.

2. If a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motor-powered vehicles, “vehicles” would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation.

Question 11.
Explain the rule of ‘Ejusdem Generis’ under the Interpretation of the statute. [June 2019 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Ejusdem Generis means “of the same kind or species”. The rule of ‘Ejusdem Generis ‘one of the primary rules for the interpretation of statutes. It is of great help to the Courts, to find out the true intention of the legislature. The rule can be explained as:

When general words follow specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general word takes its meaning from preceding expressions.

Examples:
1. If a law uses the words such as ‘oxen, bulls, goat, cows, buffaloes, horses, etc.’ the word ‘etc.’ cannot include wild animals like lion and tiger. Also, all the domestic animals will not be covered. The illustration given relates to all four-legged animals and hence other domestic animals like dogs, cats can be included but not cock or hen since cock or hen has no similarity with the illustrations of other domestic animals given.

2. If a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motor-powered vehicles, “vehicles” would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation.

Question 12.
Explain the ‘expression unis est exclusion alters rule of interpretation. [Dec 2002 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
The rule ‘expression unis est exclusion Alterius means that the express mention of one thing is the exclusion of the other.

Where things are specifically included in the list and others have been excluded it means that all others have been excluded. However, sometimes a list in a statute is illustrative, not exclusionary. This is usually indicated by a word such as “includes” or “such as”. Thus a statute granting certain rights to “police, fire, and sanitation employees” would be interpreted to exclude other public employees not enumerated from the legislation. This is based on presumed legislative intent and where for some reason this intent cannot be reasonably inferred the Court is free to draw a different conclusion.

The general meaning of “expression of one thing is the exclusion of another” is also known as the negative implication rule. This rule assumes that the legislature intentionally specified one set of criteria as opposed to the other. Therefore, if the issue to be decided addresses an item not specifically named in the statute, it must be assumed the statute does not apply.

Question 13.
Write a short note on: Rule of contemporanea expositio esi optima et fortissima in lege.
Answer:
The maxim means that a contemporaneous exposition is the best and strongest in law.

The maxim contemporanea expositio as laid down by Lord Coke was applied to construing ancient statutes, but usually not applied to interpreting statutes that are comparatively modern. Thus, old statutes should be interpreted as they would have been at the date when they were passed.

Usages and practices developed under a statute are indicative of the meaning ascribed to its words by contemporary opinion and in the case of an ancient statute, such reference to usage and practice is admissible.

Question 14.
Write a short note on Noscitur a Sociis [Dec 2007 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
The ‘Noscitur a Sociis’ i.e. “it is known by its associates”. In other words, the meaning of a word should be known from its accompanying or associating words.

A word in a statutory provision is to be read in collocation with its companion words.

The rule states that where two or more words that are susceptible to analogous meaning are coupled together, they are understood in their cognate sense. They take color from each other, the meaning of more general being restricted to less general A word may be known by the company it keeps. Associated words explain and limit each other.

Question 15.
What is the strict Sr. liberal construction of statutes? [June 2003 (8 Marks)]
Answer:
Rule of strict & liberal construction of statutes applied for interpretation of penal and taxing statutes. As per the rule of strict & liberal construction, a statute enacting an offense or imposing a penalty should be strictly construed.

Construction of penal statute:

  1. While constructing a provision in the penal statute if there appears to be a reasonable doubt or ambiguity, it shall be resolved in favor of the person who would be liable to a penalty.
  2. If a penal provision can reasonably be so interpreted as to avoid the pun¬ishment, it must be so construed.
  3. If there can be two reasonable construction of a penal provision, the more lenient should be given effect to.
  4. Unless the words of a statute clearly make an act criminal, it shall not be construed as criminal.
  5. Where certain procedural requirements have been laid down by a statute to be completed, the Court is duty-bound to see that all these requirements have complied with sentencing the accused. In case of any doubt, the benefit has to go to the accused.

Construction of taxing statute:

  1. Statutes imposing taxes or monetary burdens are to be strictly construed. The logic behind this principle is that imposition of taxes is also a kind of imposition of penalty which can be imposed if the language of the statute so says.
  2. A person cannot be taxed unless the language of the statute unambiguously imposes the obligation to pay tax.
  3. If words in taxing enactment are capable of two interpretations, the interpretation which favors the person who sought to be taxed has to be accepted.
  4. A taxing statute has no retrospective operation unless the language un-equivocally makes it so.

Question 16.
What are the internal aids in the interpretation of statutes? [Dec 2001 (8 Marks)]
Answer:
Internal aids mean those materials which are available in the statute j itself, though they may not be part of enactment. These internal aids include long title, preamble, headings, marginal notes, illustrations, punctuation, j proviso, schedule, transitory provisions, etc.

Following are internal aids in the \ interpretation of statutes:
1. Short title: The short title is a nickname of the statute, such as the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Indian Penal Code, 1860. It identifies an Act but does not describe it. It only provides a facility of reference. The short title is merely for convenience.

2. Long title: The long title of the Act may be referred for ascertaining its general scope and throwing light on its construction. It is a legitimate aid. The long title of the Act is a part of it and is admissible to construction.

3. Preamble: The main objective and purpose of the Act are found in the Preamble of the statute. It contains the recitals showing the reason for the enactment of the Act. If the language of the Act is clear the preamble must be ignored.

Example: The preamble of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 reads: Whereas it is expedient to provide a general Penal Code for India.

4. Marginal Notes: Marginal notes are those notes which are inserted at the side of the sections in an Act and express the effect of the sections. Example: Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 reads as Who are competent to contract?

Marginal notes appended to the articles of the Constitution have been held to constitute part of the constitution as passed by the Constituent Assembly. Therefore, they have been used for construing articles.

5. Heading & title of a chapter: Headings may be given to a group of sections in an Act. These are generally treated as a preamble to the group of sections. Headings prefixed to sections cannot control the plain words of the provisions. Only in the case of ambiguity or doubt, heading or sub-heading may be referred to as an aid in construing provision.

Example: The heading before Sections 172 to 190 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 reads: “Of the contempt of the lawful authority of public servants” Chapter titles or headings may be referred to as construction of doubtful expressions, but cannot be used to restrict the plain terms of an enactment.

6. Definitions/Interpretation clauses: Statutes contain definitions of certain words and expressions used in an Act. The definition gives the interpretation of certain words or expressions, they may include or exclude something, maybe of a restrictive extensive, ordinary, or special kind. When a word or expression has been defined prima facie, such definition governs that word in the body of an Act everywhere, unless specially excluded.

The object of definitions is to avoid frequent repetitions in describing the subject matter, to which the word or expression so defined is intended to apply. A definition is not to be read in isolation, it must be read in the context of its use. Where the definition itself is ambiguous, it has to be interpreted in the light of other provisions of the Act.

7. Proviso: A clause that is an exception to the main provision is known as a proviso. Thus, the proviso is made when a special case is removed from the general clause and a separate provision is made for it.

The normal function of a proviso is to accept something out of the enactment or to qualify something stated in the enactment which would be within its purview if the proviso were not there.

8. Illustrations or explanations: An illustration is appended to a section with the purpose of illustrating the provision of law explained therein. Example: 16 illustrations [(a) to (p)] have been appended to Section 378 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 which illustrate various aspects of the offense of theft.

Illustrations appended to sections are part of the statute and they help to furnish some indication of the presumable intention of the legislature.

9. Exceptions & saving clauses: The purpose of adding an exception to an enactment is to exempt something which would otherwise fall within the ambit of the main provision.

Example: Five exceptions have been provided under Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which deals with those exceptional circumstances when culpable homicide is not murder.

Similarly, a saving clause is generally appended in cases of repeal and re-enactment of the statute. It is normally appended in the repealing statute and its object is that the right already created under the repealed enactment is not disturbed.

10. Schedules: The schedules are attached to the statute to deal with as to how claims or rights under it are to be asserted or as to how powers conferred under it are to be exercised.

Example: The Companies Act, 2013 contains 7 Schedules.

Schedules attached to a statute forms part of it and must be read together with it for all purposes of construction. But expressions in the schedule cannot control or prevail against the express enactment.

11. Punctuations: Commas, semi-colons, full stops, etc. are also important in the interpretation of the statute.

12. Non-Obstante Clause: Nonobstante clause usually starts with the word ‘Notwithstanding anything contained in Nonobstante clause is employed to give overriding effect to certain provisions over some contrary provisions that may be found in the same enactment or some other en¬actments, which is to say to avoid the operations and effect of all contrary provisions.

Question 17.
Briefly mention external aids to interpretation of the statute. [June 2009 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
To find the true intention of the legislature, there exist many rules, principles, and aids in the interpretation of statutes. Apart from the intrinsic aids, such as preamble and purview of the act, the Court, can consider resources outside the Act, called the extrinsic or external aids. Where the words of an Act are clear and unambiguous, no recourse to extrinsic matter, even if it consists of the sources of the codification, is permissible.

Following are external aids used in the interpretation of the Statute:
1. Dictionaries: When a word or expression is not defined in the Act itself, it is permissible to refer to dictionaries to find out the general sense in which that word is understood in common parlance. But courts must be careful because it is not necessary that dictionary meanings of a word may be the true meaning in a particular context.

2. Historical background: The Courts take recourse of such historical facts and surrounding circumstances that existed at the time of passing of the Statutes and as may be necessary to understand the subject matter of the statutes. Like any other external aid, the inferences from historical facts and surrounding circumstances must give way to the clear language employed in the enactment itself.

3. Parliamentary history: The Supreme Court, enunciated the rule of exclusion of parliamentary history as in English Courts, but the court used this aid in resolving questions of construction on many occasions. The court has now changed the view that legislative history within circumspect limits may be consulted by courts in resolving ambiguities.

4. Reference to other statutes: A statute must be read as a whole, as words are to be understood in their context. Extension of this rule or context permits reference to other statutes in pari materia, i.e. statutes dealing with the same subject matter or forming part of the same system.

Viscount Simonds conceived it to be a right and duty to construe every word of a statute in their context and he used the words in their widest sense including “other statutes in pari materia”.

The phrase ‘part material is used in connection with two laws relating to the same subject matter that must be analyzed with each other.

5. Reference to reports of committees: The report of a committee on whose report an enactment is based, can be looked into “so as to see the background against which the legislation was enacted, the fact cannot be ignored that the Parliament may, and often does, decide to do something different to cure the mischief”.

So we should not be unduly influenced by the report. When the parliament has enacted a statute as recommended by the report of a committee and there is ambiguity or uncertainty in any provision of the statute, the court may have regard to the report for ascertaining the intention behind the provision.

6. Use of foreign decisions: Use of foreign decisions of countries following the same system of jurisprudence as of India and rendered on statutes in part material, has been permitted by practice in Indian Courts. The assistance of such decisions is subject to the qualification that prime importance is always to be given to the language of the relevant Indian Statute, the circumstances and the setting in which it is enacted, and the Indian conditions where it is to be applied.

(7) Statement of objects and reasons: The statement of objects and reasons as well as the “Notes on clauses of the Bill” can be made use of in the in¬terpretation of statutes, if the same has been adopted by the Parliament without any changes in enacting the bill.

Question 18.
Explain: Proviso [Dec 2009 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
Proviso: A clause that is an exception to the main provision is known as a proviso. Thus, the proviso is made when a special case is removed from the general clause and a separate provision is made for it.

The normal function of a proviso is to accept something out of the enactment or to qualify something stated in the enactment which would be within its purview if the proviso were not there.

Question 19.
Explain the role of ‘Preamble’ as internal aid in the interpretation of the statute. Though the preamble cannot be used to defect the enacting clause of a statute, it has been treated to be a key for the interpretation of the statute. Examine. [Dec 2019 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
The main objective and purpose of the Act are found in the Preamble of the statute. It contains the recitals showing the reason for the enactment of the Act. If the language of the Act is clear the preamble must be ignored.

Example: The preamble of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 reads: Whereas it is expedient to provide a general Penal Code for India.

Like the Long Tile, the Preamble of a statute is a part of the enactment and can legitimately be used for construing it. However, the Preamble does not override the plain provision of the Act but if the wording of the statute gives, rise to doubts as to its proper construction, e.g. where the words or phrase has more than one meaning and doubt arises as to which of the two meanings are intended in the Act, the Preamble can and ought to be referred to in order to arrive at the proper construction.

In short, the Preamble to an Act discloses the primary intention of the legislature but can only be brought in as an aid to construction if the language of the statute is not clear. However, it cannot override the provisions of the enactment.

Question 20.
Comment: Parliamentary history as external aid in the interpretation of statutes. [Dec 2012 (4 Marks)]
Answer:
The Supreme Court enunciated the rule of exclusion of Parliamentary history in the way it is enunciated by English Courts, but on many occasions, the Court used this aid in resolving questions of construction. The Court has now veered to the view that legislative history within circumspect limits may be consulted by Courts in resolving ambiguities.

It has already been noticed that the Court is entitled to take into account “such external or historical facts as may be necessary to understand the subject- matter of the statute”, or to have regard to “the surrounding circumstances” which existed at the time of passing of the statute. Like any other external aid, the inferences from historical facts and surrounding circumstances must give way to the clear language employed in the enactment itself.

Question 21.
What are the presumptions in the interpretation of statutes when the intention of the legislature is not clear? [June 2012 (6 Marks)]
Answer:
Where the meaning of the statute is clear, there is no need for presumptions. But if the intention of the legislature is not clear, there are a number of presumptions.

These are as follows:

  1. Words in a statute are used precisely and not loosely.
  2. Vested rights le. rights which a person possessed at the time the statute was passed, are not taken away without express words, or necessary implication or without compensation.
  3. ”Men’s rea” i.e. guilty mind is required for a criminal act. There is a very strong presumption that a statute creating a criminal offense does not intend to attach liability without a guilty intent. The general rule applicable to criminal cases is “actus non-facit reum nisi men’s sit rea “(The act itself does not constitute guilt unless done with a guilty intent).
  4. The state is not affected by a statute unless it is expressly mentioned as being so affected.
  5. A statute is not intended to be consistent with the principles of International Law. Although the judges cannot declare a statute void as being repugnant to International Law, yet if two possible alternatives present themselves, the judges will choose that which is not at variance with it.
  6. The legislature knows the state of the law.
  7. The legislature does not make any alteration in the existing law unless by express enactment.
  8. The legislature knows the practice of the executive and the judiciary.
  9. Legislature confers powers necessary to carry out duties imposed by it.
  10. The legislature does not make mistakes.
  11. Law compels no man to do that which is futile or fruitless.
  12. The doctrine of natural justice is really a doctrine for the interpretation of statutes, under which the Court will presume that the legislature while granting a drastic power must intend that it should be fairly exercised.

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