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DR.

RAM MANOHAR LOHIA NATIONAL


LAW UNIVERSITY, LUCKNOW

FINAL DRAFT
INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES
On the topic
PRINCIPLE OF HARMONIOUS CONSTRUCTION

Submitted To -

Submitted By -

Mr..Manwendra Kumar Tiwari

Abhay Singh Rajput

Assistant Professor

B.A LLB Hons. (Semester V)

RMLNLU, Lucknow

Roll No. 05

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INTRODUCTION
Harmonious construction is a primary rule of interpretation of statutes. Why and when we
need to interpret a statute? As the laws enacted to regulate the society are drafted by legal experts
and it can very well be anticipated that many of the laws enacted will not be specific and will
contain ambiguous words and expressions. Quite often we find that the courts and lawyers are
busy in unfolding the meaning of such words and expressions and in resolving inconsistencies.
All this has led to the formulation of certain rules of interpretation of statutes, out of which
harmonious construction is one such significant rule.
Harmonious construction, as the term suggests, when two or more provisions of a statute or
different statutes or of two different legislations are in conflict pertaining to an issue, then this
rule has its application, firstly this rule should be resorted in order to reconcile those provisions
which are in conflict, if it doesnt help the situation then other rules should be resorted which
generally gives an overriding effect.
The doctrine or the rule of harmonious construction is adopted when there is a conflict
between two or more statues or between the parts or provisions of the statues. As per this
doctrine the courts try to avoid conflicts between the provisions of the statutes. The doctrine
follows a very simple rule that every statute has made for a purpose and specific intent as per law
and it should be read as a whole and interpreted accordingly. Thus the provisions are so
interpreted that the conflict between the two statues or its provisions is avoided and each of them
is given effect. For this purpose, the scope and meaning of one may be restricted so as to give
meaning also to the other. So, The aim of the courts are:-1
i) An interpretation which makes the enactment consistent,
ii) A construction which avoids inconsistency or repugnancy between the various sections or
parts of the statute. However, in the case in which it shall be impossible to harmonize both the
provisions, the courts decision shall prevail.

1 http://lawmantra.co.in/the-doctrine-of-harmonious-construction-court-approach
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As stated by J. VenkataramaAiyar, the rule of construction is well settled that when there are
in an enactment two provisions which cant be reconciled with each other, they should be so
interpreted that, if possible, effect should be given to both.2 To harmonise is not to destroy.
The rule of harmonious construction is the thumb rule to interpretation of any statute. An
interpretation which makes the enactment a consistent whole, should be the aim of the Courts
and a construction which avoids inconsistency or repugnancy between the various sections or
parts of the statute should be adopted. The Courts should avoid a head on clash, in the words
of the Apex Court, between the different parts of an enactment and conflict between the various
provisions should be sought to be harmonized. The normal presumption should be consistency
and it should not be assumed that what is given with one hand by the legislature is sought to be
taken away by the other. The rule of harmonious construction has been tersely explained by the
Supreme Court thus, When there are, in an enactment two provisions which cannot be
reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted, that if possible, effect should be given
to both. A construction which makes one portion of the enactment a dead letter should be
avoided since harmonization is not equivalent to destruction.3
According to this rule, a statute should 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. Such an interpretation is beneficial in avoiding any inconsistency
or repugnancy either within a section or between a section and other parts of the statute. The five
main principles of this rule are:4
1) The courts must avoid a head on clash of seemingly contradicting provisions and they
must construe the contradictory provisions so as to harmonize them.
2) The provision of one section cannot be used to defeat the provision contained in another
unless the court, despite all its effort, is unable to find a way to reconcile their
differences.
2VenkataramanaDevaru v State of Mysore, AIR 1958 SC 255
3http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/harmonious-and-beneficialconstruction
4 http://ijlljs.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Harmonious-Construction
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3) When it is impossible to completely reconcile the differences in contradictory provisions,


the courts must interpret them in such as way so that effect is given to both the provisions
as much as possible.
4) Courts must also keep in mind that interpretation that reduces one provision to a useless
number or dead is not harmonious construction.
5) To harmonize is not to destroy any statutory provision or to render it fruitless.

The Supreme Court held in Re Kerala Education Bill5that in deciding the fundamental rights,
the court must consider the directive principles and adopt the principle of harmonious
construction so two possibilities are given effect as much as possible by striking a balance.

CASE LAWS:

Jagdish Singh v Lt. Governor, Delhi AndOrs6


In this appeal, the order of the Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Delhi Administration dated 23rd
February, 1993 directing that the appellant ceases to be a member of Dronacharaya Co-operative
Group Housing Society as well as Tribal Co-operative Housing Society Ltd., the Revisional
Order of the Lt. Governor, Delhi dated 25th August, 1993 dismissing the Revision of the Delhi
High Court dated 20th March, 1996 passed in have been challenged.
Facts of the case: the appellant became a member of Dronacharaya Co-operative Group
Housing Society on 9th August, 1980. The said Society was allotted land within the Union
Territory of Delhi by Delhi Administration for construction of flats for allotment to its members.
The appellant being a member of the society desirous of purchasing a flat on being directed by
the society deposited initially a sum of Rs. 8,000 and thereafter different sums of money on
51959 1 SCR 995
6MANU/SC/0558/1997
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different dates, in all Rs, 3,35,015 by 20th of June, 1991. While he was a member of
Dronacharaya Co-operative Group Housing Society, he also got himself enrolled as a member of
another Society called Tribal Co-operative Housing Society Ltd, on 29th of November, 1983, but
later on he resigned from the said Tribal Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. on 7.6.1991. The
Registrar, Co-operative Societies issued a notice to the appellant on 22nd October, 1992 in
exercise of his powers under sub-rule (4) of Rule 25 of the Delhi Co-operative Societies Rules,
1973 (hereinafter referred to as 'Rules') stating therein that the appellant could be enrolled as a
member of the Tribal Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. by filing a false affidavit and declaring
that neither he nor his wife nor any of his dependent relations has been a member of any other
House Building Co- operative Societies and thus has incurred the disqualification under Rule
25(l)(c)(iii) of the Rules and consequently ceases to be a member of the society under sub-rule
(2) of Rule 25. The Registrar called upon the appellant to reply to the show-cause notice within
15 days from the date of issue of the notice. The appellant in his reply indicated that he was not
aware of the relevant provisions of the Rules prohibiting a member of one society to become a
member of another Co-operative Society. At any rate he has tendered his resignation from the
Tribal Co- operative Housing Society Ltd. since June 1991 much prior to the issuance of the
notice of show- cause, and therefore, the alleged dis-qualification under Rule 25(l)(c) (iii) was no
longer subsisting.
Rule 24.Conditions to be complied with for admission to membership.
No person shall be; admitted as a member of a co-operative society: unless
(i) he has applied in writing in the form laid down by the co-operative society or in the form
specified by the Registrar, if any, for membership along with a declaration on path that he is not a
member of any other co- operative society having similar objects;
(ii) his application is approved by the committee of the co-operative society in pursuance of the
powers conferred on it in that behalf and subject to such resolution as the general body may in
pursuance of the powers conferred on it in that behalf from time to time pass, and in the case of
nominal, associate, by an officer of the society authorized in that behalf by the committee;
(iii) he has fulfilled all other conditions laid down in the Act, the Rules and the Bye-laws; and
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(iv) in case of a firm, company or body corporate, society registered under the Societies
Registration Act, 1860, a public trust registered under any law of the time being in force relating
to registration of public trust or a local authority, the application for membership is accompanied
by a resolution authorizing it to apply for such membership, and the sanction of the Lt. Governor
has been accorded.
Rule 25.Disqualification for Membership.
(1) No person shall be eligible for admission as a member of a co-operative society if he
(a) has applied to be adjudicated an insolvent or is an undischarged insolvent , or
(b) has been sentenced for any offence other than an offence of a political character or an offence
not involving moral turpitude and dishonesty and a period of five years has not elapsed from the
date of expiry of the sentence;
(c) in the case of membership of a housing society :-.
(i) he owns a residential house or a plot of land for the construction of a residential house in any
of the approved or unapproved colonies or other localities in the Union Territory of Delhi, in his
own name or in the name of his spouse or any of his dependent children, on leasehold or freehold
basis provided that disqualification as laid down in sub-rule (1)(e)(i) shall not be applicable in
case of persons who are only co-sharers of joint ancestral properties in congested localities (slum
areas) whose share is less than 66.72 sq. metres (80 sq. yards) of land;
(ii) he deals in purchase or sale of immovable properties either as principal or as agent in the
Union Territory of Delhi; or
(iii) he or his spouse or any of his dependent children is a member of any other housing society
except otherwise permitted by the Registrar.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the rules or the bye-laws of the co-operative society,
if a member becomes, or has already become, subject to any disqualification specified in sub-rule

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(1), he shall be deemed to have ceased to be a member from the date when the disqualifications
were incurred.
(3) A member who ceases to be a member of a co-operative society under sub-rule (2) shall not
be entitled to exercise rights of membership or incur liability as member with effect from the
date referred to in sub-rule (2) but as from the date he becomes a creditor of the co-operative
society in respect of the amount due to him on account of paid-up share capital, deposit, cost of
land deposited or any other amount paid by him to the co- operative society as its member. As
from the date of his ceasing to be a member of the society under sub-rule (2), the amount
standing to his credit shall be paid to him by the co-operative society within 3 months and when
the co-operative society is already under liquidation, the amount due to him will be credited as a
debt due to a third party from the co-operative society.
(4) If any question as to whether a member has incurred any of the disqualification referred to in
sub-rule (1) arises, it shall be referred to the Registrar for decision. His decision shall be final
and binding on all concerned. The power of the Registrar under this rule shall not be delegated to
any other person appointed to assist the Registrar.
Rule 28.Prohibition of Membership in Two Co-operative Societies.
No individual, being a member of a primary co-operative society of any class shall be a member
of any other co-operative society of the same class without the general or special permission of
the Registrar, and where an individual has become a member of two co-operative societies of the
same class either or both of the co-operative society shall be bound to remove him from
membership upon written requisition from the Registrar to that effect.
Issue involved: Whether a person who is a member of a housing co-operative society having
incurred the disqualification under Rule 25(l)(c)(iii) on being a member of a subsequent housing
society would cease to be a member of both the societies with effect from the date of the
disqualification incurred by him?
The well-known principle of harmonious construction is that effect should be given to all the
provisions, and therefore, this Court had held in several cases that a construction that reduces one
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of the provisions to a 'dead letter' is not a harmonious construction as one part is being destroyed
and consequently court should avoid such a construction.
The counsel on behalf of appellant argued and relied on the above principle of harmonious
construction and submitted to the court that if sub-rule (2) of Rule 25 and Rule 28 are examined
the obvious answer would be that under sub-rule (2) the deemed cessation from membership of
the person concerned is in relation to the society pertaining to which disqualifications are
incurred A plain reading of Rule 28 makes it crystal clear that the Registrar when becomes aware
of the fact that an individual has become a member of two co-operative societies of the same
class which obviously is a disqualification under Rule 25 then he has the discretion to direct
removal of the said individual from the membership of either or both the co-operative societies.
If sub-rule (2) of Rule 25 is interpreted to mean that deemed cessation of the person concerned
from membership of both the societies then the question of discretion of the Registrar under Rule
28 will not arise.
On the other hand, if sub-rule (2) is interpreted to mean that the deemed cessation is in relation to
the society in respect of which the person concerned incurs the disqualification then both subrule (2) as well as Rule 28 would have its play. Rule 28 in our considered opinion cannot be held
to be otiose and must be allowed to have its full play.
Courts view: In view of our aforesaid construction of sub-rule (2) of Rule 25, the conclusion is
irresistible that the Registrar while passing the impugned order dated 23rd February, 1993 and
Lt. Governor while dismissing the appellant's Revision by his order dated 25th August, 1993 as
well as the High Court in the impugned judgment dated 20th March, 1996 com-mitted gross
error in holding that the appellant ceases to be a member of both the societies under sub-rule (2)
of Rule 25. The aforesaid orders, therefore, are wholly unsustainable and cannot be sustained.
The Registrar while issuing notice or while passing the impugned order has not chosen to
exercise his discretion conferred under Rule 28 of the Rules. When a power has been conferred
upon the Registrar under Rule 28 to decide as to Whether he would direct cancellation of the
membership of the person concerned from any one of the two societies or the both when it comes
to his knowledge that a person has become a member of two of the co-operative societies, then a
corresponding duty is cast upon him to examine the circumstances under which the person
concerned has become member of two societies and to take a conscious decision in the matter of
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exercise of his discretion. That being the position, it is difficult to accept the contention of the
learned counsel for the respondent that the impugned direction of the Registrar could be treated
as one under Rule 28 when on the face of it we find that the Registrar has not chosen to exercise
his power under Rule 28 nor has he taken all relevant material into consideration in exercising
his discretion, one way or the other. t is held that by operation of sub-rule (2) of Rule 25 the
appellant has ceased to be a member of the Tribal Co-operative Housing Society with effect from
the inception of his entry to the said society in November 1983. But his membership of
Dronacharaya Co-operative Group Housing Society remains unaffected. Hence the appeal is
allowed.

Cantonment Board, Mhow v M.P. State Road Transport Corpn.


These six appeals raise a common question and are directed against the judgment of the Madhya
Pradesh High Court, the said common question of law being whether the Cantonment Board is
entitled to levy entry tax on Motor Vehicle?
Facts of the case: The Cantonment Board Saugor by Notification in exercise of power under
Section 60 of the Cantonment Act made provision for imposition of the Vehicles Entry Tax at the
rates specified in the said Notification.
The Madhya Pradesh Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1947 provide for the levy of a tax on Motor
Vehicles in Madhya Pradesh. Section 3(1) the said Act entitled the Taxation Authority to levy tax
on motor vehicles used or kept for use at the rate specified in the First Schedule read with Subsection (2) of Section 3 of the said Act. While the Taxation Act was in force the Madhya Pradesh
legislatures enacted the law relating to Municipalities and to make better provision for the
organisation and administration of Municipalities in Madhya Pradesh called the Madhya Pradesh
Municipalities Act, 1961. Section 127(1)(iii) of the said Municipalities Act which has a direct
bearing in deciding the controversy that has arisen in these appeals may be extracted hereinafter
in extension for better appreciation of the point in issue.
All these Notifications issued by different Cantonment Boards were challenged before the
Madhya Pradesh High Court by filing Writ Petitions and those Writ Petitions were allowed by
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the impugned judgments of the High Court and it was held that the Cantonment Board has no
power to levy entry tax on motor vehicles so long as the prohibitions contained in Section 6 of
the Taxation Act continues and accordingly the notifications issued by the Cantonment Board
were quashed and thus the present appeals.
Provisions involved:
S.60. General Power of taxation: (1) The Board may, with the previous sanction of the Central
Government, impose in any cantonment any tax which under any enactment for the lime being in
force, may be imposed in any municipality in the State wherein such cantonment is situated.
S.127. Taxes which may be imposed - (1) A council may, from time to time, and subject to the
provisions of this Chapter, and any general or special order which the State Government may
make in this behalf, impose in the whole or in any part of the Municipality any of the
following taxes, for the purposes of the Act, namely:
(iii) a tax on vehicles, boats and animals used as aforesaid entering the limits of the
Municipality but not liable to taxation under Clause (ii).
Issue involved: Whether the Cantonment Board could impose tax on vehicles entering the limits
of the Cantonments which could have otherwise been levied by the Municipality in exercise of
power under Section 127(1)(iii) of the Municipalities Act?
Courts View: After considering the arguments advanced by the counsels of both the parties,
court said none of the provisions could be given an overriding effect. Court applied the rule of
harmonious construction and held that the impugned judgments of the Madhya Pradesh High
Court are set aside and is it held that the respective Cantonment Boards are entitled to levy tax on
entry of Motor Vehicles into limits of the Cantonment Boards pursuant to the notifications issued
by the Cantonment Boards in exercise of power under Section 60 of the Cantonments Act.
Appeal is allowed.

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The Sirsilk Ltd. And Ors v Government Of Andhra Pradesh7


Certain disputes between the employer and the workmen were referred to an industrial tribunal.
After adjudication, the tribunal sent its award to the government for publication. However,
before the award was published, the parties to the dispute came to a settlement and accordingly,
wrote a letter to the government jointly, intimating the fact that the dispute had been settled;
hence the award shall not be published.
On the governments refusal to withhold the publication, the employer approached the High
Court for a writ or direction to the government to withhold the publication. The High Court
rejected the writ petition as well as the writ arising therefrom. The parties then appealed by
special leave to the Supreme Court. The main contention of the appellants was that Section 17 of
the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is directory in nature and not mandatory.
Provisions Involved:
S.17 After passing of the award by the Labour Tribunal the award has to be published by the
appropriate government within a period of thirty days from the date of its receipt by the
government in such manner as the government thinks fit.
S.18 When the settlement is reached the term of the settlement becomes final.
Courts view:
Here, the court applied the rule of harmonious construction as there was no requirement of
overriding effect. Court read both of the provisions harmoniously and held thatwhere a
settlement is arrived at between the parties to a dispute before the tribunal after the award has
been submitted to Government but before its publication, there is in fact no dispute left to be
resolved by the publication of the award. In such a case, the award sent to Government may very
well be considered to have become infructuous and so the Government should refrain from
publishing such an award because no dispute remains to be resolved by it. Hence it therefore
allow the appeals and direct the Government not to publish the awards sent to it by the industrial

71964 AIR 160; 1964 SCR (2) 448


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tribunal in these cases in view of the binding nature of the settlements arrived at between the
parties under s. 18 of the Act.

CONCLUSION

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