Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Rule of literal interpretation

Rule of literal interpretation 
 The literal rule of interpretation really means that there should be no interpretation. In other words, we should read the statute as it is, without distorting or twisting its language. [1]
This rule is the most widely used Rule of Interpretation for the statutes to ascertain the legislative intention behind the framing of the enactment.
 The rule governs and regulates the meaning of the law in as much as the rule provides that the meaning has to be ascertained from the text of the law itself.
In M/s. Hiralal Ratanlal v. STO [2], the Supreme Court observed that
In interpreting a statutory provision the first and foremost rule of interpretation is the literally construction. All that the Court has to see at the very outset is what does the provision say. If the provision is unambiguous and if from the provision the legislative intent is clear, the Court need not call into aid the other rules of construction of statutes. The other rules of construction are called into aid only when the legislative intent is not clear.
Moreover, it is been regularly held by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that one of the basic principles of interpretation of Statutes is to construe the words according to their plain, literal and grammatical meaning. If this principle is contrary to, or inconsistent with, any express intention or declared purpose of the Statute, or if it would involve any absurdity, repugnancy or inconsistency, the grammatical sense must then be modified, extended or abridged, so far as to avoid such an inconvenience, but no further. The onus of showing that the words do not mean what they say lies heavily on the party who alleges it.[3]
 The departure from this rule is allowed in few cases and in those cases where following rules supplement the literal rule of interpretation. This departure has beautifully been stated by the court in the following words:
 When the astuteness of the legislature results in manifest ludicrousness or discrimination the courts have wide powers to substitute their own astuteness.
 The substitution of astuteness is been done with the appliance of following rules in the requisite state of affairs.
[1]B. Premanand v. Mohan Koikal, (2011) 4 SCC 266

[2]AIR 1973 SC 1034

[3]State of Rajasthan v. Babu Ram AIR 2007 SC 2018


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