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I. Introduction
II. Meaning of Aids to Construction
III. Internal Aids to Construction
1. Statement of Objects and Reasons
2. Preamble
3. Titles
4. Heading
5. Marginal Headings or Notes
6. Definition Clauses
7. Explanation
8. Proviso
9. Illsutrations
10. Punctuation
11. Schedules
12. Transitional Provisions
13. Legal fictions
14. Saving clause

1. Statement of Objects and Reasons

The statement of objects and reasons accompanying a bill, when introduced in
Parliament, can be used for "the limited purpose of understanding the background
and the antecedent state of affairs leading up to the legislation." [State of West
Bengal v. Union of India (1963)]
The statement of objects and reasons for introducing a particular piece of
legislation cannot be used for interpreting the legislation, if the words used
therein are clear enough.[Express Newspaper (P) Ltd. v. Union of India (1958)]

State of Maharashtra v. Marwanjee F. Desai (2002)

Statement of objects and reasons is undoubtedly an aid to construction and a useful
guide but the interpretation and the intent shall have to be gathered from the
entirety of the statute and when the language of the sections providing an appeal
to a forum is clear and categorical, no external aid is permissible in
interpretation of the samact

2. Preamble

3. Titles.
Usually long title precedes the Preamble, e.g. 'An Act Authorise Advocates of
the Supreme Court to practice as of right in any High Court. Short title is not as
useful as the long title. In words of Lord Moulton, it is a statutory nickname to
obviate the necessity of always referring to the Act under its full and descriptive
R. Vs Secretary of State for Foreign and Common Wealth Affairs, 1994
Long title as well as short title of an Act is a good aid to its construction and
the object, purpose and scope of the act.

Aswini Kumar Ghose vs Arabinda Bose, 1952

Ofcourse, it cannot override the clear meaning of the enactment. [Poppatlal Shah vs
State of Madras, 1953]

4. Heading
A "heading" may be a name, title, caption or nomenclature. They supply a key to the
interpretation of clauses ranged under it. They are of two types:
1. Short headings which are prefixed to sections, and
2. Long headings which are prefixed to a set or a group of sections. [Bhinka vs
Charan Singh, 1959]
There are two groups with different opinion regarding headings. One group is of the
opinion that unless the wording is inconsistent with the interpretation, a heading
is to be regarded as supplying the key to interpretation of clauses arranged under
The section heading constitutes an important part of the Act itself and may be read
not only as explaining the provisions of the section, but it also affords a better
key to the construction of the provisions of the section which follows, than might
be afforded by a mere Preamble. [Eastern Coalfields Limited vs Sanjay Transport
Agency, 2009]

Another group is of the opinion that when the words are ambiguous resort to the
headings can be taken.
A heading or label of a provision is not always the real determining test of its
true nature. [Rani Choudhary vs Suraj Jut Chaudhary, 1982]
Thus, there is no unanimity of opinions about the weightage to be attached to the
5. Marginal Headings or Notes
This marginal headings or notes were considered useful in the past but now
according to majority of views, they cannot be used for construing the section.
[Karnataka Rare Earth vs Deptt. of Mines and Geology, 2004]
Shrimanta vs CIT, 1992
Marginal heading of the section cannot control the meaning of the section when it
is clear and unambiguous.
Eastern Coalfields Ltd vs Sanjay Transport Agency, 2009
The section headings constitute an important part of the Act itself, and may be
read not only as explaining the provisions of the section, but it also affords a
better key to the construction of the provisions of the section which follows, than
might be afforded by a mere Preamble.
Sarabjit Rick Singh vs Union of India, 2008
Although marginal notes may not be relevant for rendition of decisions in all types
of cases, but where the main provision is sought to be interpreted differently,
reference to marginal notes would be permissible in law.
6. Definition Clauses
In order to avoid verbatim reproduction of the provisions of the earlier Act into
the latter, a definition is a legislative device adopted for the sake of
Definitions may be borrowed from an earlier Act. This is known as a definition
borrowed by incorporation or by reference. [Ichchapur Industrial Cooperative
Society Limited vs ONGC, 1997]
When the definition of a word is provided in the statute itself, dictionary meaning
cannot be looked into. [S. Gopal Reddy vs State of Andhra Pradesh, 1996]
A definition clause is not to be taken as substituting one set of words for another
or as strictly defining what the meaning of a term must be under all circumstances,
but as merely declaring what may be comprehended within the term, when the
circumstances require that it should be so comprehended. [Raval & Co. v. K.G.
Ramachandran (1974)]
Definitions can be divided into three types:
1. Ambiguous definitions
2. Definitions subject to a contrary context
3, extencive and restrictive
7. Explanation
An explanation is sometimes appended to a section to explain the meaning of the
words contained in the section.
Explanation is, thus, an interpretation, definition, solution, answer, elucidation
or meaning of what is provided in the section or the proviso. Consequently it
becomes a part and parcel of the enactment. [Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. vs State of
Bihar, 1955]
There can be a negative explanation taking out or excluding certain types of
categories from the main provision. [ITO vs Short Bros Pvt Ltd, 1967]
Explanations are meant to clear any ambiguity in case of any obscurity or
In order to suppress the mischief and advance the object of the Act, where some gap
is left which is required to be explained, explanations assist the court in
arriving at the true meaning and intendment of the enactment.
However it cannot set at naught the working of the Act by becoming an obstacle in
8. Proviso
Proviso is generally an exception from the general rule enacted in the main
However, sometimes, this legitimate use is not strictly adhered to by the draftsman
and it may be in the substance, a substantive provision adding to and not merely
excepting something out of or qualifying what goes before it. [U.P. SRTC v. Mohd.
Ismail, (1991)]
Provisos are often added not as exceptions or qualifications to the main enactment
but as saving clauses, in which case they will not be construed as controlled by
the section. [Shah Bhojraj Kuverji Oil Mills and Ginning Factory v. Subhash Chandra
Yograj Sinha (1961) ]
The proper function of a proviso is that it qualifies the generality of the main
enactment by providing an exception and taking out as it were, from the main
enactment, a portion which, but for the proviso, would fall within the main
enactment. [CIT v. Indo Mercantile Bank Ltd. 1959]
9. Illsutrations
In order to explain the provision of law contained in a statute, illustrations are
examples or instances appended to a section.
Illustrations, therefore, form a part of the section and are relevant and useful in
the construction and elucidation of the text of the section. [Mahesh Chandra Sharma
v. Raj Kumari Sharma, (1996)]
Illustrations cannot detract the prime importance of the language of the section
which is the enacting provisions. They can't control the real content of the
section. They must give away in case of repugnance with the text of the section.
10. Punctuation
Earlier punctuations had no place in the construction of a statute in England. It
was considered as an error if punctuations were relied upon for construction.
But now punctuations cannot be discarded, it has its own use and value; however, it
cannot control the plain meaning of a text. [Aswini Kumar Ghose vs Arabinda Bose]
AK Gopalan vs State of Madras, 1950
With respect to modern statutes, if the statute in question is carefully
punctuated, punctuation though a minor element may be resorted to for construction.
Bihar SEB vs Palak Enterprises, 2009
Even though sometimes, presence or absence of comma has been taken aid of in
interpreting the particular provision, the ordinary rule is that punctuation mark
is a minor element in the interpretation of statute.
11. Schedules
Details of a schedule are not included in a section to avoid confusion. It helps to
read and understand the section easily.
The division of a statute into sections and schedules is a mare matter of
convenience and a schedule may contain substantive enactments. [Aphali
Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra (1989)]
If the language is unclear, the provision in the schedule may be construed as
confined to the purpose indicated by the heading and the relevant section
connected. [Ujagar Prints (2) v. Union of India, 1989]
In case of conflict between the body of the act and the schedule, the former has an
upper hand and prevails. [Alphali Pharmaceuticals]

12. Transitional Provisions.

According to Thornton, " the function of a transitional provisions is to make
special provision for the application of legislation to the circumstances which
exist at the time when that legislation comes into force."
In case of conflict between the body of the act and the schedule, the former has an
upper hand and prevails. [Alphali Pharmaceuticals]
What appears to be the plain meaning of a substantive enactment is often modified
by transitional provisions located elsewhere in the Act.
13. Legal fictions
Legal fiction is something which is not real but the law recognises it and the
courts accept it as reality. The courts believe something to exist which does not
exist in reality.
State of Bombay vs Pandurang Vinayak, 1953
A legal fiction is said to be created when a statute enacts that something shall be
deemed to have been done, which in fact and truth was not done.
In construing the scope of a legal fiction, it would be proper and even necessary
to assume all those facts on which alone the fiction can operate. [CIT v. S. Teja
Singh (1959)]
14. Saving clause.
A savings clause is mostly an exception of a special thing out of the general
things mentioned in an Act. [Dwarka Prasad vs Dwarka Das Saraf, 1976].
The true principal is that the sound interpretation and meaning of the Statue, on a
view of the enacting clause, saving clause and proviso, taken and construct
together is to prevail.

hydons case cit v sodra devi(income tax act) , alahabad bank v, canara bank,
good year ltd v. state of haryana(compitition act1955)

I. Grammatical or literal construction

1. Literal or strict construction : application
2. Restricted meaning : when given
3.Logical defects
4. The Golden Rule �ascertaining intent from language used
5. Effect to be given irrespective of consequences
6. Deviation when justified
7. Words with legal connotations
8. Reddendo singula singulis
9. Non-obstante Clause
10. Changing trend in interpretation

I. Grammatical or literal construction

Literal interpretation is also known as grammatical interpretation. Only the verbal
expression of law is to be taken into consideration in case of this construction.
Courts do not travel beyond the literal construction or the litera legis.
Jugalkishore Saraf v. Raw cotton Co. Ltd.
The cardinal rule of construction of statute is to read statute literally, that is,
by giving to the words their ordinary, natural and grammatical meaning. If ,
however, such a reading leads to absurdity and the words are susceptible of another
meaning the court may adopt the same. But if no such alternative construction is
possible, the court must adopt the ordinary rule of literal interpretation.
1. Literal or strict construction : application
Rules of interpretation such as the mischief rule, purpose interpretation, etc, can
only be used when the words of statute are ambiguous or leads to no intelligent
result or if read literally would nullify the very object of the statute.
Rules of interpretation such as the mischief rule, purpose interpretation, etc, can
only be used when the words of statute are ambiguous or leads to no intelligent
result or if read literally would nullify the very object of the statute.
Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab (1994)
In all ordinary cases, grammatical interpretation being the only interpretation
allowable, other methods of extracting the meaning can be resorted to, if the
language is contradictory, ambiguous or leads really absurd results.
2. Restricted meaning : when given
State of U.P v. Malik Zarid Khalid (1988)
In certain cases, courts are compelled to subordinate the plain meaning of the
statutory language. It, thus, gives a restricted meaning to a provision, but it is
there, only where it is needed, otherwise it may be clearly opposed to the object
and scheme of the Act or may lead to an absurd, illogical or unconstitutional
3.Logical defects
Grammatical interpretation has three logical defects:
1) Ambiguity
2) Inconsistency
3) Incompleteness of used
The courts can go behind the litera legis to find out the real intention of the
legislature in case of ambiguity in the language of the statute. In case of two
possible meanings, the one which is more natural, obvious and consonant with the
ordinary use of language, must be adopted.
Inconsistency between different parts of a statute could destroy and nullify their
Thus, the courts have to find out the true intention of the legislature and correct
the letter of law.
Nasiruddin v. STAT, (1975)
It has been observed that if there are two different interpretations of the words
in an act, the court will adopt that which is just, reasonable and sensible, rather
than that, which is none of those things.
In case of incompleteness, there could be such a lacuna or gap i.e. logical
incompleteness in law that it would not allow the whole meaning to be clear or to
be expressed. In such a situation, the court has to resort to logical
interpretation rather than grammatical interpretation.
4. The Golden Rule �ascertaining intent from language used
Golden rule is the modified form of the principal of grammatical interpretation.
According to the Golden rule of interpretation, unless the literal meaning of a
document leads to anomaly or absurdity, the principles of literal interpretation
should be adhered to. The provisions provided in a statute have to be considered as
the legislative thought subject to constitutional and other limitations.
According to Maxwell on interpretation of statute, the object of all interpretation
is to discover the intention of Parliament, “ but the intention of Parliament must
be deduced from the language used” for “ it is well accepted that the beliefs and
assumption of those who frame the Acts of Parliament cannot make the law”
As observed in Sussex Peerage Case 1844,
"The only rule for the construction of the acts of parliament is that they should
be construed according to the intent of the Parliament which passed the Act. If the
words of the statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be
necessary to explain the words in their natural and ordinary sense. The words
themselves alone do, in such cases, best declare the intention of the law giver."
Lord Wensleydale stated the rule in Grey v. Pearson (1857)
"The ordinary grammatical sense of the words is to be adhered to, unless that would
lead to an absurdity or some repugnance or inconsistency with the rest of the
instrument, in which case the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words may be
modified, so as to avoid such absurdity and inconsistency, but no further."
It has been called the golden rule as it has been observed that it solves all the
When the term, "construction" of a statute is being used, in reality the golden
rule is being applied; while when the term "interpretation" is used, the literal
rule is being applied, after considering the object of the statute.
As stated by Viscount Symonds, LC,
"The golden rule is that the words of a statute must prima facie be given the
ordinary meaning."
5. Effect to be given irrespective of consequences
Bombay Dyeing & Mfg. Co. Ltd. (3) v. Bombay Environment Action Group
"The cardinal rule of interpretation is that unless literal meaning given to a
document leads to anomaly or absurdity, the principles of literal interpretation
should be adhered to."

6. Deviation when justified

Stock v. Frank Jones (Tipton) Ltd. (1978)
A court may deviate from the plain word of the statute when it is satisfied that,
1. There is a clear and gross balance of anomaly
2. Parliament, the legislative promoters and the draughtsman could not have
envisaged such anomaly and could not have been prepared to accept it in the
interest supervening legislative objective
3. The anomaly can be obviated without detriment to such a legislative
4. The language of the statute is susceptible to the modification required to
obviate the anomaly.
7. Words with legal connotations
Whenever a particular word acquires a particular connotation in law, dictionaries
cease to be helpful in the interpretation of that particular word. E.g. final
order, judgement, in course of employment, have their own technical meaning. It may
be possible that the intention of the legislator is not to use the word in its
legal sense.
Jones v. Tower Book Co. Ltd (1997)
In this case, Section 32, Race Relations Act, 1976 (UK), had provision in relation
to the acts of racial discrimination committed by a person "in the course of his
employment". In law of torts, this expression has a technical meaning which results
in vicarious liability. Accepting this meaning would have defeated the object of
the act by restricting the scope of operation of the Act. Thus the expression was
interpreted to have its natural everyday meaning .
8. Reddendo singula singulis
This Latin expression means "referring each to each".
It is a mode of interpreting a document whereby each phrase is referred to its
appropriate object. [ Samatha v. State of A.P. (1997)]
This rule was quoted by the Supreme Court in the case Koteswar Vittal Kamath v. K.
Rangappa Baliga and Co. (1969) from Black's Interpretation of Laws
"When a sentence in a statute contains several antecedents and several
consequences, they are to be read distributive, that is to say, each phrase or
expression is to be referred to it's appropriate objects."
"When a sentence in a statute contains several antecedents and several
consequences, they are to be read distributive, that is to say, each phrase or
expression is to be referred to it's appropriate objects."
This rule was applied in the construction of Article 304 of Constitution which
"Provided that no bill or amendment for the purpose of clause (b) shall be
introduced or moved in the Legislature of a State without the previous sanction of
the President". The Supreme Court held that the word "introduced" referred to
"Bill" and the word "moved" to "Amendment."
9. Non-obstante Clause
Sometimes, a section begins with "notwithstanding anything contained in" etc.. Such
a Clause is called a non obstante clause. It means that the section containing the
non obstante clause will have an overriding effect, if there is a conflict between
it and the rest of the provision.
10. Changing trend in interpretation
Kehar Singh vs State (Delhi Admn.) (1988)
In this case, regarding changing trend in interpretation from literal or
grammatical meaning, Shetty J has observed:
"In the past, the judges and lawyers spoke of a golden rule by which statutes were
to be interpreted according to grammatical and ordinary sense of the word. They
took the grammatical or literal meaning unmindful of the consequences. Even if such
a meaning gave rise to unjust results which legislature never intended, the
grammatical meaning alone was kept to prevail. They said that it would be for the
legislature to amend the Act and not for the court to intervene by its innovation."
The golden rule has been given a go-by for the past several years. Courts now
consider the intention of the Legislature or the purpose of the statute. It would
apply the rational meaning if the words are ambiguous, uncertain or give rise to