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Table of Contents

Sl.No Particulars Pg. No

1. Table of Cases 03
2. Introduction 05
3. The Literal Rule 08
4. The Golden Rule 11
5. Criticism of Golden Rule 12
6. Conclusion 19
7. Bibliography 20
Table of Cases

Assessing Authority v. Patiala Biscuits Manufacturers, AIR 1977 SC 1339


Annapurna Biscuit Manufacturing Co. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax, U P, AIR 1981
SC 1656
Badsha Mia v Rajjab Ali, AIR 1946 Cal 348, p 353.
Bhavnagar University v Palitana Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd 2 SCC 111
Bhatia International v Bulk Trading SA & Anor (2002) 4 SCC 318
Dental Council of India and Anr. v. Hari Prakash and Ors, [2001] INSC 357
Ganga Singh [1960] 2 SCR 346, P 351
Kiadivalapa v. Manikrao Patil, AIR 1977 SC 2171
Lee v. Knapp, (1967) 2 QB 442.
M/s Sainik Motors v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1961 SC 1480
Madan Mohan v K.Chandrashekara AIR 1984 SC 871: (1984) 2 SCC 288,
Maumsell v. Olins, (1975) AC 373
Maqbool Hussain v State of Bombay 1953 AIR 325 1953 SCR 730
Municipal board v State transport authority AIR 1953 SC 79
Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd 3 All ER 549 (HL)
Nyadar Singh v. Union of India ,AIR 1988 SC 1979
Ramanjaya Singh v Baijnath Singh A.I.R. 1954 SC 749
Ramji Missar v. State of Bihar, AIR 1963 SC 1088: (1963) Supp 2 SCR 745
R. v. Sweden Lord Parker ,(1964) 1 WLR 1454.State of Jammu and Kashmir v
Thankur Romero v International Terminal Operating Co 358 US 354, 3 L Ed 2d 368,
375.
State of Kerala & Ors v Dr SG Sarvothama Prabhu (2001)9 SCC 673
Tirath Singh v. Bachitter Singh,AIR 1955 SC 850
Tarlochan Dev Sharma v. State of Punjab, AIR 2001 SC 2524.
Uttar Pradesh Bhoodan Yagna Samiti v. Brij Kishore, (1963) AC 557
Research Methodology

Research Aim and Objective:

The research work is concerned with the contentious topic of The Golden Rule. The basic
objective behind the concerned research is to succeed in learning about the attempts made by
the judiciary in several cases related to the application of The Golden Rule. The research
aims at discovering the several aspects of interpreting a statute.

Research Hypothesis

Interpretation is the method by which the true sense or the meaning of the word is
understood. The meaning of an ordinary word of the English language is not a question of
law. The proper construction of a statute is a question of law. The purpose of the
interpretation of the statute is to unlock the locks put by the legislature. For such unlocking,
keys are to be found out. These keys may be termed as aids for interpretation and principles
of interpretation.

Research Question

The question that emerges through the research are as follows:

1. What is the Golden Rule of Interpretation?


2. How does the court find out the intention of the legislature from the words?
3. How is the Golden Rule applied?

Methodology

The research methodology in the concerned research clearly reflects Doctrinal, as well as
Analytical Research. The stated methods were considered for the given research; because of
its aptness towards the topic. The doctrinal method of research is preferred as compared to
non-doctrinal method of research. The paper is analytical as well as descriptive in nature.

Mode of Citation:
The Uniform Mode of Citation has been adopted throughout the course of the paper.

INTRODUCTION

Interpretation is the method by which the true sense or the meaning of the word is
understood.1 The meaning of an ordinary word of the English language is not a question of
law. The proper construction of a statute is a question of law. The purpose of the
interpretation of the statute is to unlock the locks put by the legislature. For such unlocking,
keys are to be found out. These keys may be termed as aids for interpretation and principles
of interpretation.

According to Gray,2 the process by which a judge (or indeed any person, lawyer or layman,
who has occasion to search for the meaning of a statute) constructs from words of a statute
book, a meaning which he either believes to be that of the legislature, or which he proposes to
attribute to it, is called interpretation.3

The conventional way of interpreting a statute is to seek the intention of its makers,4 and
apply that to the facts of the case at hand. An interpretation of the statutory provision which
defeats the intent and purpose for which the statute was enacted should be avoided. 5 Justice
Chakravarti made two observations in his behalf in Badsha Mia v Rajjab Ali.6

The primary object in interpreting a statute is always to discover the intention of the
legislature and in England the rules of interpretation, developed there , can be relied on to aid
the discovery because those whose task is to put the intention of the legislature into language,
fashion their language with those very rules in view. Since framers of statutes couch the
enactments in accordance with the same rules as the judicial interpreter applies, application of
those rules in the analysis of a statute naturally brings up the intended meaning to the surface.
It is at least doubtful whether in a case of framers of Indian statutes of the present times,
especially of the provincial legislature, the same assumption can always be made.

1
State of Jammu and Kashmir v Thankur Ganga Singh [1960] 2 SCR 346, P 351
2
Gray, Nature and Sources of the Law, second edn, pp 176-78.
3
Salmond, Interpretation of Statutes, eleventh edn, p 152.
4
Bhatia International v Bulk Trading SA & Anor (2002) 4 SCC 318
5
State of Kerala & Ors v Dr SG Sarvothama Prabhu (2001)9 SCC 673
6
Badsha Mia v Rajjab Ali, AIR 1946 Cal 348, p 353.
Interpretation is of two kinds grammatical and logical. Grammatical interpretation is
arrived at by reference to the laws of speech to the words used in the statute; in other words,
it regards only the verbal expression of the legislature. Logical interpretation gives effect to
the intention of the legislature by taking into account other circumstances permissible
according to the rules settled in this behalf. Proper construction is not satisfied by taking the
words as if they were self-contained phrases. So considered, the words do not yield the
meaning of a statute.7

According to Gray, grammatical interpretation is the application to a statute of the laws of


speech; logical interpretation calls for the comparison of the statute with other statutes and
with the whole system of law, and for the consideration of the time and circumstances in
which the statute was passed. It is the duty of the judicature to ascertain the true legal
meaning of the words used by the legislature. A statute is the will of the legislature and the
fundamental rule of interpretation , to which all others are subordinate, and that a statute is to
be expounded, according to the intent of them that made it.The object of interpretation is to
find out the intention of the legislature.

The primary and foremost task of a court in interpreting a statute is to ascertain the intention
of the legislature, actual or imputed. The words of the statute are to be construed so as to
ascertain the mind of the legislature from the natural and grammatical meaning of the words
which it has used.

Lies in its spirit, nor in its letter, for the letter is significant only as being the external
manifestation of the intention that underlies it. Nevertheless in all ordinary cases the courts
must be content to accept the litera legis as the exclusive and conclusive evidence of the
sententia legis. They must, in general, take it absolutely for granted that the legislature has
said what it meant, and meant what it has said. Its scriptment is the first principal of
interpretation. Judges are not at liberty to add to or take from or modify the letter of the law
simply because they have reason to believe that the true sententia legis is not completely or
correctly expressed by it. It is to say, in all ordinary case grammatical interpretation is the
sole form allowable.

7
Romero v International Terminal Operating Co 358 US 354, 3 L Ed 2d 368, 375.
Parke B in Becke v Smith8 formulated the following well-known rule for the interpretation of
statutes:

If the precise words used are plain and unambiguous, in our judgment, we are bound to
construe them in their ordinary sense, even though it does lead, in our view of the case, to an
absurdity or manifest injustice. Words may be modified or varied where their import is
doubtful or obscure, but we assume the function of legislators when we depart from, the
ordinary meaning of the precise words used merely because we see, or fancy we see, an
absurdity or manifest injustice from an adherence to their literal meaning.

Burton J in Warburton v Loveland,9 observed:

I apprehend it is a rule in the construction of statutes, that, in the first instance, the
grammatical sense of the words is to be adhered to. If that is contrary to, or inconsistent with
any expressed intention, or declared purpose of the statute, or if it would involve any
absurdity, repugnance, or inconsistency, the grammatical sense must then be modified,
extended, or abridged so far as to avoid such inconvenience, but no further.

8
Jurisprudence, eleventhedn, p 152.
9
(1929) 1 H&B IR 623, p 648:
The Literal Rule
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. The first and foremost step in the course of interpretation is to
examine the language and the literal meaning of the statute. The words in an enactment have
their own natural effect and the construction of an act depends on its wording. There should
be no additions or substitution of words in the construction of statutes and in its
interpretation. The primary rule is to interpret words as they are. It should be taken into note
that the rule can be applied only when the meanings of the words are clear i.e. words should
be simple so that the language is plain and only one meaning can be derived out of the
statute.

In Municipal board v State transport authority, Rajasthan,10 the location of a bus stand was
changed by the Regional Transport Authority. An application could be moved within 30 days
of receipt of order of regional transport authority according to section 64 A of the Motor
vehicles Act, 1939. The application was moved after 30 days on the contention that statute
must be read as 30 days from the knowledge of the order. The Supreme Court held that
literal interpretation must be made and hence rejected the application as invalid. Lord
Atkinson stated, In the construction of statutes their words must be interpreted in their
ordinary grammatical sense unless there be something in the context or in the object of the
statute in which they occur or in the circumstances in which they are used, to show that they
were used in a special sense different from their ordinary grammatical sense.

Meaning
To avoid ambiguity, legislatures often include "definitions" sections within a statute, which
explicitly define the most important terms used in that statute. But some statutes omit a

10
Municipal board v State transport authority AIR 1953 SC 79
definitions section entirely, or (more commonly) fail to define a particular term. The plain
meaning rule attempts to guide courts faced with litigation that turns on the meaning of a
term not defined by the statute, or on that of a word found within a definition itself.
According to Viscount Haldane, L.C., if the language used has a natural meaning we cannot
depart from that meaning unless, reading the statute as a whole, the context directs us to do
so. According to the plain meaning rule, absent a contrary definition within the statute, words
must be given their plain, ordinary and literal meaning. If the words are clear, they must be
applied, even though the intention of the legislator may have been different or the result is
harsh or undesirable. The literal rule is what the law says instead of what the law means.

Understanding the literal rule

The literal rule may be understood subject to the following conditions

i. Statute may itself provide a special meaning for a term, which is usually to be found in the
interpretation section.

ii. Technical words are given ordinary technical meaning if the statute has not specified any
other.

iii. Words will not be inserted by implication.

iv. Words undergo shifts in meaning in course of time.

v. It should always be remembered that words acquire significance from their context.

When it is said that words are to be understood first in their natural ordinary and popular
sense, it is meant that words must be ascribed that natural, ordinary or popular meaning
which they have in relation to the subject matter with reference to which and the context in
which they have been used in the Statute. In the statement of the rule, the epithets natural,
ordinary, literal, grammatical and popular are employed almost interchangeably to
convey the same idea.

For determination of the meaning of any word or phrase in a statute, the first question is what
is the natural and ordinary meaning of that word or phrase in its context in the statute but
when that natural or ordinary meaning indicates such result which cannot be opposed to have
been the intention of the legislature, then to look for other meaning of the word or phrase
which may then convey the true intention of the legislature. In the case of Suthendran V.
Immigration Appeal Tribunal, the question related to Section 14(1) of the Immigration Act,
1971, which provides that a person who has a limited leave under this Act to enter or remain
in the United Kingdom may appeal to an adjudication against any variation of the leave or
against any refusal to vary it. The word a person who has a limited leave were construed as
person should not be included who has had such limited leave and it was held that the
section applied only to a person who at the time of lodging of his complaint was lawfully in
the United Kingdom, in whose case, leave had not expired at the time of lodgment of an
appeal.
The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is a modification of the principle of grammatical interpretation. It says that
ordinarily the court must find out the intention of the legislature from the words used in the
statute by giving them their natural meaning but if this leads to absurdity, repugnance,
inconvenience, hardship, injustice or evasion, the Court must modify the meaning to such an
extent and no further as would prevent such a consequence. On the face of it, this rule solves
all problems and is modified to some extent, this approach is called the modifying method of
interpretation. This rule, suggests that consequences or effects of an interpretation deserve a
lot more importance because these are clues to the true meaning of legislation. There is a
presumption that the legislature does not intend certain objects and any construction leading
to any of such objects deserves to be rejected. The court when faced with more than one
possible interpretation of an enactment is entitled to take into consideration the result of each
interpretation in a bid to arrive at the true intention of the legislature.

Lord Wensleydale called it the golden rule and adopted it in Grey v Pearson11 and
thereafter it is usually known as Lord Wensleydales Golden Rule. This is another version of
the golden rule.

11
(1857) 6 HL 61, p 106,26 LJ Ch 473,p 481 Abbot v Middleton (1858) 11 ER 28 ,7 HLC 114 ,115 ,per Lord
Wensleydale
APPLICATION OF GOLDEN RULE

If the choice is between two interpretations, said Viscount Simon, L.C. in Nokes v. Doncaster
Amalgamated Collieries Ltd.12 We should avoid a construction which would reduce the
legislation to futility or the narrower one which would fail to achieve the manifest purpose of
the legislation. We should rather accept the bolder construction based on the view that
Parliament would legislate only for the purpose of bringing about an effective result. Thus, if
the language is capable of more than one interpretation, one ought to discard the literal or
natural meaning if it leads to an unreasonable result, and adopt that interpretation which leads
to reasonably practical results.

In this case Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd 13 section 154 of the Companies
Act, 1929 was in question. This provision provided machinery for the transfer of the
undertaking (an old company) to a new company. Under the section, transfer includes all
property, rights, liabilities and duties of the former company vest with the latter. An issue
therefore was whether a contract of service previously existing between an individual and
transferor company automatically becomes a contract between the individual and the latter
company. Hence, action was taken against him; however, no notice was given to him about
the proposed amalgamation either by the transferor or the transferee company. It was
contended that the contract of service could fall under the term property. Rejecting the
contention, the House of Lords held that the benefits of contract entered into between the
former company and the employee cannot be transferred (by X company to Y company)
without the consent of the employee. Notice of amalgamation by transferor or Transferee
Company to the individual servant was essential. The golden rule is that the words of a
statute must prima facie be given their ordinary- meaning. If the legislature really desired that
workmen should be transferred to a new company without their consent being obtained, plain
12
(1940) AC 1014: (1940) 3 AU ER 549 (HL)
13
Nokes v. Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd 3 All ER 549 (HL)
words could be derived to express this intention. As in the present case, neither the provision
of law provides such a primary meaning as applicable to the transfer of personal service, and
nor there is any overt act on the part of the transferor or the transferee company informing the
worker as regards the amalgamation The contract did not exist between the appellant and the
respondent and therefore the latter company cannot take any action against the employee
regarding service.

In R. v. Sweden Lord Parker14construed section 1(1) of the poor Prisoners Defense Act,
1930: Any person committed for trial for an indictable offence shall be entitled to free legal
aid in the preparation and conduct of his defense at the trial and to have solicitor and counsel
assigned to him for that purpose. The Court of Criminal appeal held that this section gave
the right to an accused person once the certificate is granted to have a solicitor assigned for
the purposes mentioned, but not a right that that solicitor or another should defend him at the
trial. The court observed: if the section properly construed, gave an accused person a right to
have a solicitor at the trial, it would mean that he could repeatedly refuse to have the solicitor
assigned when he got advice which he did not like and go to others, and there would be no
means whatever to prevent that, with the result that there might be added expense to the
country, delays and abuse of the whole procedure. Such an unreasonable intention of
Parliament cannot be imputed. In Nyadar Singh v. Union of India,15 a restricted construction
was given to rule 11 (VI) of the Central Services (Classification, Appeal and Control) Rules,
1965. This Rule empowers imposition of penalty of reduction to a lower time-scale pay,
grade post or service. The Supreme Court held that a person initially appointed to a higher
post and grade of pay scale cannot be reduced to a lower grade or post. A wider construction
if given to the provision, it may affect the recruitment policy itself for a person directly
recruited to a higher post may not have the requisite qualification for the lower post.

There may be cases where even though literal interpretation may include certain
consequences not intended by the legislature, the court shall not so interpret because some
lawful justification is available for doing so. Similarly, an Act may be construed within a
limited scope even though the language does not specifically so provide. In certain other
situations, a statute may be given a restricted interpretation on the basis of the object of it
although the grammatical construction would carry its operation for beyond. Whenever, more

14
R. v. Sweden Lord Parker ,(1964) 1 WLR 1454.
15
Nyadar Singh v. Union of India ,AIR 1988 SC 1979
than one construction are possible, that which reasonable, inconvenient and anomalous
results seems. When the consequence of an interpretation is manifest injustice the court will
generally hesitate to give effect to it. Similarly, a construction leading to an absurd
conclusion will be rejected. The duty of the court is to supress all evasions for the
continuance of the mischief which the statute is supposed to control.

In India there are several good examples where the Supreme Court or High Courts have
applied the Golden Construction of Statutes. Certain confusion one may face when it appears
that even for literal rule, this rule is named. As golden rule initially starts with the search of
literal meaning of the provision, and if there is unequivocal meaning, plain and natural and no
repugnancy, uncertainty of absurdity appears, apply the meaning. But when there is
possibility of more than one meaning, we have to go further to avoid the inconvenience by
even modifying the language by addition, rejection or substitution of words so as to make
meaning accurate expounding of intention of the legislature.

In Tirath Singh v. Bachitter Singh16, the appellant argued that it was obligatory under Section
99 (1) (a)of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for the tribunal to record names of all
persons who had been guilty of corrupt practices including parties and non-parties to the
petition and that under the provision notice should be given to all persons named under
Section 99 (1) (a) (ii). He being a party to the petition was, therefore, entitled to a fresh
notice. The Supreme Court said that such an interpretation will lead to an absurdity and held
that thr proviso along with clause (b) thereto and the setting of the section pointed out that
notice is contemplated only against non-parties to the petition.

In Dental Council of India and Anr. v. Hari Prakash and Ors.17 , it was held:

"The intention of the Legislature is primarily to be gathered from the language used in the
statute, thus paying attention to what has been said as also to what has not been said. When
the words used are not ambiguous, literal meaning has to be applied, which is the golden rule
of interpretation."

In Maumsell v. Olins,18 (1975) AC 373, Lord Simon formulated the exception to the "golden
rule" required by technical words, or words of art, as follows:

16
Tirath Singh v. Bachitter Singh,AIR 1955 SC 850
17
Dental Council of India and Anr. v. Hari Prakash and Ors, [2001] INSC 357
18
Maumsell v. Olins, (1975) AC 373
"(The 'golden rule') is sometimes put. (sic) that in statutes dealing with ordinary people, in
their everyday lives, the language is presumed to be used in its primary ordinary sense unless
this stultified the purpose of the statute or otherwise produces some injustice, absurdity,
anomaly or contradiction in which case some secondary ordinary sense may be preferred so
as to obviate the injustice, absurdity, anomaly or contradiction, or fulfil the purpose of the
statute ; while in statutes dealing with technical matters, words which are capable of both
bearing the ordinary meaning and being terms of art in the technical matter of the legislation
will presumptively bear their primary meaning as such terms of art (or, if they must
necessarily be modified, some secondary meaning as terms of art.")

In Ramanjaya Singh v Baijnath Singh19, the Election tribunal set aside the election of the
appellant under s 123(7) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 on the grounds that the
appellant had employed more persons than prescribed for electioneering purpose. The
appellant contended that the excess employees were paid by his father and hence were not
employed by him. The Supreme Court followed the grammatical interpretation of S 123(7)
and termed the excess employees as volunteers.

In Maqbool Hussain v State of Bombay20 , the appellant, a citizen of India, on arrival at an


airport did not declare that he brought gold with him. Gold, found in his possession during
search in violation of government notification, was confiscated under S 167 (8) Sea Customs
Act, 1878. He was charged under s 8 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. The
appellant pleaded that his trial under the Act was violative of Art 20(2) of the constitution
relating to double jeopardy as he was already punished for his act by way of confiscation of
the gold. It was held by the Supreme Court that the sea customs authority is not a court or a
judicial tribunal and the confiscation is not a penalty. Consequently his trial was valid under
the Act of 1947.

In Madan Mohan v K.Chandrashekara,21 it was held that when a statute contains strict and
stringent provisions, it must be literally and strictly construed to promote the object of the act.

In Bhavnagar University v Palitana Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd 22, it was held that according to the
fundamental principles of construction the statute should be read as a whole, then chapter by
chapter, section by section and then word by word. In Municipal board v State transport

19
Ramanjaya Singh v Baijnath Singh A.I.R. 1954 SC 749
20
Maqbool Hussain v State of Bombay 1953 AIR 325 1953 SCR 730
21
Madan mohan v K.Chandrashekara AIR 1984 SC 871: (1984) 2 SCC 288,
22
Bhavnagar University v Palitana Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd 2 SCC 111
authority, Rajasthan, an application against the change of location of a bus stand could be
made within 30 days of receipt of order of regional transport authority according to s 64 A of
the Motor vehicles Act, 1939. The application was moved after 30 days on the contention that
statute must be read as 30 days from the knowledge of the order.

The Supreme Court held that literal interpretation must be made and hence rejected the
application as invalid.

In Raghunandan Saran v M/s Peary Lal workshop Pvt Ltd, the Supreme Court validated 14
(2) of the Delhi Rent Control Act 1958 and provided the benefit of eviction on account of
non-payment of rent. The Supreme Court adopted grammatical interpretation.

In M/s Sainik Motors v. State of Rajasthan23, the State legislature enacted Rajasthan
Passengers and Goods Taxation Act, 1959 which imposed a tax on passengers and goods
carried by road on motor vehicles. This was challenged on the grounds that the tax had not
been levied upon passengers and goods under entry 5 of List II but upon fares and freights, a
Union subject under Entry 89 of List I, and the act was in violation of Articles 301 and 304 of
the Constitution. It was held by the Supreme Court that the tax was not upon the income of
the operators but was upon passengers and goods, and that though the measure of the tax was
furnished by the amount of fare and freight charged, it did not cease to be tax on passengers
and goods.

In Lee v. Knapp24, interpretation of the word stop was involved. Under Section 77 (1) of the
Road Traffic Act, 1960 a driver causing an accident shall stop after the accident. In this case
a driver stopped for a moment after causing an accident and then moved away. Applying the
golden rule of the court held that requirement of the section had not been followed by the
driver as he had not stopped for a reasonable period requiring interested persons to make
necessary inquiries from him about the accident.

In Assessing Authority v. Patiala Biscuits Manufacturers,25 interpretation of the words


possession of the registration certificate in the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948 and the
rules made thereunder was involved. The Supreme Court held that interpreting possession as
factual possession will lead to unnecessary and avoidable hardship. It is sufficient if the
dealer, after having completed all essential formalities, has already submitted his application

23
M/s Sainik Motors v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1961 SC 1480
24
Lee v. Knapp, (1967) 2 QB 442.
25
Assessing Authority v. Patiala Biscuits Manufacturers, AIR 1977 SC 1339.
for registration. Thus, the dealer could give his registration number to the appellant on a later
date but after having covered the earlier period along with a declaration.

In Tarlochan Dev Sharma v. State of Punjab,26 the question of interpretation of the words
abuse of his powers of habitual failure to perform his duties in Section 22 of Punjab
Municipal Act, 1911 was involved. The Supreme Court observed that to find the meaning of
a word not defined in an enactment the Courts apply the subject and object rule which
means it is necessary to ascertain carefully the subject of the enactment where the word
occurs and have regard to the object which the legislature has in view. In selecting one out of
the various meanings of a word regard must be had to the context. Abuse of power in the
context implies a wilful abuse if an intentional wrong. An honest though erroneous exercise
of power or an indecision is not an abuse of power.

In Uttar Pradesh Bhoodan Yagna Samiti v. Brij Kishore,27 the Supreme Court held that the
expression landless person used in section 14 of U.P. Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1953 which
made provision for grant of land to landless persons, was limited to landless labourers. A
landless labour is he who is engaged in agriculture but having no agricultural land. The Court
further said that any landless person did not include a landless businessman residing in a
city. The object of the Act was to implement the Bhoodan movement, which aimed at
distribution of land to landless labourers who were verged in agriculture. A businessman,
though landless cannot claim the benefit of the Act.

In Ramji Missar v. State of Bihar,28 in construing section 6 of the Probation of


Offenders Act, 1958, the Supreme Court laid down that the crucial date on which the age of
the offender had to be determined is not the date of offence, but the date on which the
sentence is pronounced by the trial court An accused who on the date of offence was below
21 years of age but on the date on which the judgment pronounced, if he was above 21 years,
he is not entitled to the benefit of the statute. This conclusion reached having regard to the
object of the Act. The object of the Statute is to prevent the turning of the youthful offenders
into criminals by their association with the hardened criminals of mature age within the walls
of the prison. An accused below 21 years is entitled to the benefit of the Act by sending him
under the supervision of the probation officer instead of jail.

26
Tarlochan Dev Sharma v. State of Punjab, AIR 2001 SC 2524.
27
Uttar Pradesh Bhoodan Yagna Samiti v. Brij Kishore, (1963) AC 557
28
Ramji Missar v. State of Bihar, AIR 1963 SC 1088: (1963) Supp 2 SCR 745
In Narendra Kiadivalapa v. Manikrao Patil,29 section 23 of the Representation
of People Act, 1951, which permitted inclusion of the name in the electoral roll till the last
date for nomination for an election in the concerned constituency, has been construed.
Section 33(1) of the R.P. Act, 1951 specifies that the nomination papers shall be presented
between the hours of 11O clock in the fore noon and 30 clock in the afternoon. Reading
these provisions together in the light of the object behind them, the Supreme Court construed
the words last date in section 23 as last hour of the last date of nomination under section
33(1) of the Act.

In Annapurna Biscuit Manufacturing Co. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax, U P.,30 Sales Tax
was fixed at two per cent, of the turnover in the case of cooked food under section 3A of
the U.P. Sales Tax Act, 1948. The appellant firm engaged in the business of biscuit
manufacture and sale. Whether biscuits though intended for human consumption, can be
construed as cooked food and liable to be taxed as per the notification issued under the said
provision. Held that if an expression is capable of a wider meaning, the question whether the
wider or narrower meaning should be accepted depends on the context of the statute. Here
biscuit was not covered within the words cooked food. However, where the precise words
used are plain and unambiguous the court is bound to construe them in their ordinary sense
and not to limit plain words in an Act of Parliament by consideration of policy which has to
decide not by court but by Parliament itself.

29
Kiadivalapa v. Manikrao Patil, AIR 1977 SC 2171
30
Annapurna Biscuit Manufacturing Co. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax, U P, AIR 1981 SC 1656
Criticism of Golden Rule

The Golden Approach can be criticized:

The United Kingdom Law Commissions commented in their report that:

There is a tendency in our systems, less evident in some recent decisions of the courts but
still perceptible, to over emphasise the literal meaning of a provision (i.e. the meaning in the
light of its immediate and obvious context) at the expense of the meaning to be derived from
other possible contexts; the latter include the mischief or general legislative purpose, as well
as any international obligation of the United Kingdom, which underlie the provision.

They also stated that to place undue emphasis on the literal meaning of words is to assume
an unattainable perfection in draftsman ship. This was written in 1969 and in the light of
more recent judicial developments, it seems that the courts have shifted somewhat from the
literal approach. Zander contends that: The main principles of statutory interpretation-the
literal rule, the golden rule and the mischief rule-are all called rules, but this is plainly a
misnomer(A misnomer is a term that suggests an interpretation known to be untrue). They are
not rules in any ordinary sense of the word since they all point to different solutions to the
same problem. Nor is there any indication, either in the so-called rules or elsewhere, as to
which to apply in any given situation. Each of them may be applied but need not be Zander,
in his more recent book, criticized the golden rule for being silent as to how the court should
proceed if it does find an unacceptable absurdity

1. It suffers from the same difficulties as the literal approach Vis lack of wider
contextual understandings of meanings.
2. The idea of absurdity covers only a very few cases. Most cases involve situations
where difficult choices have to be made between several fairly plausible arguments,
not situations where the words lead to obvious absurdities.
3. The use of the absurdity safety valve can be very erratic as pointed out by Professor
Willis in his famous article, Statute Interpretation in a Nutshell (l938) l6 C.B. Rev.l.
Willis at l3-l4:
CONCLUSION

The Golden rule could, thus, be concluded as follows:

1. It is the duty of the Court to give effect to the meaning of an Act when the meaning
can be fairly gathered from the words used, that is to say, if one construction would
lead to an absurdity while another will give effect to what common sense would
show, as obviously intended, the construction which would defeat the ends of the Act
must be rejected even if the same words used in the same section, and even the same
sentence, have to be construed differently. Indeed, the law goes so far as to require the
courts sometimes even to modify the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words, if
by doing so absurdity and inconsistency can be avoided.
2. The Court should not be astute to defeat the provision of the Act whose meaning is,
on the face of it, reasonably plain. Of course, this does not mean that an Act or any
part of it can be recast. It must be possible to spell the meaning contended for, out of
the words actually used.
3. Unless the words are without meaning or absurd, it would be safe to give words their
natural meaning because the framer is presumed to use the language which conveys
the intention and it would not be in accord with any sound principle of construction to
refuse to give effect to the provisions of a statute on the very elusive ground that to
give them their ordinary meaning leads to consequences which are not in accord with
the notions of propriety or justice entertained by the Court.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books Referred:

Bhattacharya .T. Prof, The Interpretation of Statutes, Central Law Agency, 9th
Edition.
Tandon.P.M, Interpretation of Statutes,11th edition 2013

Websites Referred:

http://www.lawctopus.com/academike/golden-rule-interpretation/
http://www.caaa.in/Image/Interpretation%20of%20Statutes.pdf
http://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/GOLDEN-RULE-OF-
INTERPRETATION-3105.asp#.Vyx4Vm59603
http://sip.ucoz.com/Executive/Module_1/GCL/interpretation_of_statutes.pdf