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All About Interpretation Of Statutes

Meaning of Interpretation of Statutes

The term has been derived from the Latin word ‘ Interpretari” which means to explain, expound, understand, or to translate and to discovering the true meaning of the language which has been vested in the statute this process is commonly adopted in courts for determining the exact meaning of the legislature. As per the theory of powers, there are 3 organs i.e. legislative, executive, judiciary. The interpretation of statutes is concerned with the judiciary.

Needs of Interpretation;

  1. Complexity of statue
  2. Anticipation of future event
  3. Multifaceted nature of language

Interpretation and construction:

While interpretation means refers to the true sense of provision of a statute and to understand the exact meaning used in a statute. And it determines the linguistic language and gives simple meaning. construction means refers to draw conclusions from a written text which is beyond the legal text. It determines the legal effect with literal meaning.

Classification Of Statutes:

A statue may generally be classified with reference to its duration, method, object and extent of application.

(1) Codifying statue: A codifying statue is one which is in written form codifies the law  which purports to state upon a specific object

(2) Consolidating statute: a consolidating statue is a statue which consolidates the law on a subject and gives the shape of the statue with minor amendments in India CRPC 1974 is a consolidating statute.

(3) Remedial statue: remedy statue is a statue to provide the remedies and the main object of passing such a statute is to make improvements in the enforcing of one right or for a redress of wrong and remove defects.

(4) Disabling statue: A disabling statue is one which restricts a right by the

(5) Amending statue: An amending statue is one which makes an addition to change the old

(6) Enabling statue: Enabling statue is a statue one that enlarges the common law and it deals with a particular field of law to describe the full fledge of description. for example, the land acquisition act enables the government to gain public property.

(7) Declaratory statute: is a statue which removes doubt either in common law or statutory law and to rectify an interpretation which the legislation thing is wrong.

(8) Penal statue: This is a statue which deals with certain offenses punished to paralyzed for example; the Indian penal code, civil procedure code, armed force act, etc.

(9) Taxation statute: is a statute which imposed a tax on income and which is regulated by taxation or revenue purpose which includes VAT, custom act, etc.

(10) Repealing statue: is a statue which completely removes remove from the action and make a new act, for example, ICA, 1872 repealed sales of the good act and becomes a new act.

Rules Of Interpretation:

There are 3 types of the rule in the interpretation of statutes which are discussed as follows :

1. Literal rule:

The literal rule means that the word of enactment is to be given the ordinary and natural meaning If such meaning is cleared and there is no ambiguity if the act should be given a provision of statute whatever consequences.

The object of Literal rule; The object of literal rule is to know the true intention of the legislature which has been express by it through words which are to be interpreted according to the rule of grammatical interpretation when the meaning of the statute of plain the duty of the court without looking towards the consequences of such interpretation.

Maqbool Husain vs. state of Bombay[1]: in this case basically appellant of who is a citizen of India and he was going to an airport and after searching he was charged under section 8 of FERA, 1947 and he was also confiscated under section 167(8) sea custom act when he as to go to the court he appealed that he was violative of Article 20(2) of the constitution of India which talks about double jeopardy.  it was held that sea custom authority is not a court and this trial under the act was valid.

2. Golden Rule:

There is an assumption that the parliament does not intend certain objects and any construction leading to any of such object deserve to be rejected. If the court when faced with more than 1 possible interpretation of an enactment is entitled to take into consideration the result of each interpretation in a bit to arrive at the true intention of the legislature. On the face of it, all problem and is therefore known as the golden rule. Further, since the literal meaning is modified to some extent this approach is called the modifying interpretation of the statute.

Lee vs. Knapp[2]: in this case, it was held that the word ‘ stop’ should be interpreted under section 77(1) of the road traffic act basically a driver was driving a car and an accident shall happen so it means a driver stopped for a movement after causing an accident and then moved away. the bench held that the driver has not followed the rule for an appropriate period.

3. Mischief Rule:

The main aim of the rule is to determine the mischief and defect and provide a remedy. The mischief rule of interpretation originated in the Heydon case in 1584.

Ranjit udeshi vs. state of Maharashtra[3] in these cases it was held that the appellant was charged under section 292 of the Indian penal code for selling indecent content lady Chatterley lover. Then he argued in court that there is a very large number of books in a book shop and the shopkeeper is no expected to go through each and every book. in this case, the supreme court held that there was no ambiguity arise in the grammar of an enactment.


The court interpreted the law to know the intention of the legislature that the word of enactment is to be given the ordinary and natural meaning If such meaning is cleared and there is no ambiguity if the act should be given a provision of statute whatever may be the consequences. which against the ouster of established jurisdiction, and against violation of international law which affects the state. As per the theory of powers, there are 3 organs i.e. legislative, executive, judiciary. The interpretation of statutes is concerned with the judiciary. There are some rules which have to provide the true intention of the legislature and to overcome the burden of courts.

[1] AIR 1953 SC 325

[2] (1967) 2 QB 442

[3] AIR 1965 SC 881

This Article is Authored by Harshil Munjal, 2nd Year BBA.LL.B (HONS.) Student at JECRC University.

Also Read – Article 124, Constitution of India – Interpretation and Evolution.

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