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The Hon’ble Supreme Court viewed that “The fundamental rule of construction is the same for all statutes whether fiscal or otherwise. The underlying principle is that the meaning and intention of a statute must be collected from the plain and unambiguous expression used therein rather than from any notions, which may be entertained, by the Court as to what is just or expedient.  To arrive at the real meaning it is always necessary to get a conception of the aim, scope and object of the whole Act.”
                                                                  C.I.T. Vs. Shahzada Nand & Sons (1966)
                 
          In many cases, if the provision is unambiguous and if from that provision the legislative intent is clear, there is no need to take into account the other rules of construction of statutes. Only when the legislative intention is not clear, the other rules are called into aid.  When the language of statute or intention of the statute is clear, there is no need for the rules of interpretation. 

          It is our effort to explain the view of the Legislature with which intention a statute, notification or an amendment are promulgated.  Therefore, we are making all efforts for the tax payer to avoid artificial ambiguity and also to resolve any ambiguity, at your request.

Sudarshan Wellington

 
Definition:-
 
  • A statute must be construed according to its plain language and neither should anything be added nor subtracted.
   [AIR 1981 SC 1610]
 
  • An attempt must always be made to reconcile the relevant provisions so as to advance the remedy intended by the statute.
 [AIR 1979 SC 289]
 
  • As a general principle of interpretation, where the words of a statute are plain, precise and unambiguous, the intention of the Legislature is to be gathered from the language of the statute itself enabling others to derive from them the same idea which the authors intend to convey in the very full sense of the word construction the judges has set themselves in this branch of the law to try to frame the law as they would like to have it (Interpretation of Statutes).   
[AIR 1989 SC 1024]
 
  • Interpretation is the process by which the therapist brings the patient to an understanding of a particular aspect of his or her problems or behavior Interpreter is a person who translate orally the words of persons speaking different languages in their presence; a person sworn by a court to interpret the testimony of a witness, when given in a language other than commonly used by the court it is a well settled rule of interpretation, sanctified by authority that the meaning of an ordinary word is to be found not so much in strict etymological propriety of language, nor even in popular use, as in the subject or occasion on which it is used and the object which is intended to be attained. 
 [AIR 1976 SC 238]
 
  • It is determination of meaning of a writing, art of finding out the true sense in which the author has intended it is hazardous to interpret a word in accordance with the definition in another statute or statutory instrument and more so when such statute or statutory instrument is not dealing with any cognate subject. 
 [AIR 1985 SC 76]
 
  • It is only where a statute is not exhaustive or where its language is ambiguous, uncertain, clouded or susceptible of more than one meaning or shades of meaning, that external evidence as to the evils, if any, which the statute was intended to remedy, or of the circumstances which led to the passing of the statute maybe looked into for the purpose of ascertaining the object which the Legislature had in view in using the words in question.
    [AIR 1975 SC 946]
 
  • It is process of asserting the meaning given to the text, as per Section 3 of Evidence Act it is well settled that in construing the provisions of statute the courts should be slow to adopt a construction, which tends to make any part of the statute meaningless or ineffective. The very concept of interpretation connotes the introduction of elements which are necessarily extrinsic to the words in the statute. The word “interpretâ” means to explain or to translate into intelligible language as per Section 19 of Coroners Act, 1876.Though the words “interpretation and construction” are used interchangeably, the idea is somewhat different where no definition is provided in Statute itself for ascertaining the correct meaning of a fiscal entry reference to a dictionary is not always safe as it gives all the different shades of meaning where the word has a scientific or technical meaning and also an ordinary meaning according to common parlance, it is in the latter sense that in a taxing statute the word must be held to have been used.
[AIR 1988 SC 2223; 1988 (4) JT 762]
 
  • While construing a word which occurs in a statute or a statutory instrument in the absence of any definition in that very document it must be given the same meaning which it receives in ordinary parlance or understood with the subject matter of the statute or statutory instrument understand it.
--Sudarshan Wellington
 
STATUTE  &  INTERPRETATION
 
It was already established that statutory provisions cannot override constitutional provisions. A clear understanding of the taxation matters is vital – as all laws and Government actions are subordinate to the Constitution of India. It is well aware that the Constitution is source of powers to all laws in India. Therefore to understand each individual Law, a clear understanding of any Act, Rule, Notification or Government order or circular is required for the tax payer. According to Article 265 of the Constitution, “no tax shall be levied or collected except by authority of law”; a tax payer shall understand the law / statute before he pays the tax.  So the law or the statute is to be interpreted unambiguously.
 
    1. Statute takes effect without promulgation and other proclamation, and as soon as the Parliament concluded anything, the law presumes that every person has notice of it at once.  Parliament makes laws for governance of the country; it is also concerned with policies of law. 
    • Notification will be effective on the date ‘it is issued’.
    • A notification will start with words “GSR” (General Statutory Rules).
 

Therefore, this is only an effort to advice the tax payers to interpret the statute in the way for which it was enacted. Necessarily a statute is promulgated in the interest of its citizens by the Government.  Our effort may reduce the litigation(s) hereafter.

 
  • In a taxing statute one has to look merely at what is clearly said. There is no room for any intendment. There is no equity about a tax. There is no presumption as to a tax. Nothing is to be read and nothing is to be implied. One can only look fairly at the language used.
Cape Brandy Syndicate v. Inland Revenue Commissioners-1 KB 64 P.71[1921]
  • The general principle that interpretation should not do violence to the language of the notification and also should effect to the true intent and purpose.   
Collector of Customs v. BHEL-1992(61)ELT.332(SC)
  • There is no quarrel with the proposition (of strict interpretation) but there is another equally valued principle that such notifications should be given their due effect, keeping in view the purpose underlined.
Collector of Central Excise v.Neoli Sugar Factor-1993(65)ELT.145(SC)
  • It is statute, statutory instrument or an ordinary instrument, the interpretation placed has to accord with the intention of the maker as evidenced by the words/language used.
Hind Plastics v. Collector of Customs, Bombay-1994(71)ELT.325(SC)
  • The expression having no ambiguity or doubt, there need not be any strict interpretation.
S. G. Glass Works Pvt., Ltd., v. Collector of Central Excises-1994(74)ELT.775(SC)
  • One has to gather the meaning in the legal setting to discover the object which the Act seeks to serve and the purpose of the amendment brought about. The task of interpretation of statute is not a mechanical one. It is more than mere reading of a mathematical formula. It is an attempt to discover the intension of the legislature from the language used by it, keeping always in mind that the language is at best an imperfect instrument for the expression of actual human thoughts. It is also ideal to expect that the drafts man drafted it with the divine prescience and perfect and unequivocal clarity.
  • Therefore Court would endeavour to eschew literal construction if it produces manifest absurdity or unjust result. 
Oswal Agro Mills Ltd. V. C.C.E.-1993(66)ELT.37(SC)                     
  • The principle of adopting a liberal interpretation which advances the purpose and object of beneficent provisions cannot be carried to the extent of doing violence to the plain and simple language used in the enactment. It would not be reasonable or permissible for the Court to re-write the section or substitute words of its own for the actual words employed by the legislature in the name of giving effect to supposed underlying object.  
   C.I.T. v. N.C.Budhiraja &Co.-1993(91) STC 45(SC)
  • In the interpreting a taxing statute, equitable considerations are entirely out of place. Nor can taxing statutes be interpreted on any presumptions or assumptions. The Courts must look squarely at the words of the statute and interpret them. It must interpret a taxing statute in the light of what is clearly expressed; it cannot imply anything which is not expressed; it cannot import provisions in the statutes so as to supply an assumed deficiency.  
Commissioner of Sales Tax . Modi Sugar Mills-AIR 1961 SC 1047
  • In a case where two notifications on fertiliser were attempted to be compared by the Attorney General to find out the true intention of the Government, the Supreme Court observes: “We are afraid, we are not to ascertain the intention of the Govt. by a comparison of the expressions used in the two different notifications.” The Supreme Court preferred to interpret the notification on the clear language of the notification concerned.  
Coromandel Fertilisers Ltd. V. C.C., Madras-1986(25)ELT.861(SC)
 
If the words of a statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, no more is necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense, the words themselves in such case best declaring the intention of the legislature.
  • Where alternative constructions are equally open that alternative is to be chosen which will be consistent with the smooth working of the system which the statue purports to be regulating; and that alternative is to be rejected which will introduce uncertainty, friction or confusion into the working of the system.
Collector of Customs, Baroda v. Digvijaysingh Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd.-                                      1983(13) ELT.1337(SC)=AIR 1961 SC 1549
As viewed by Sudarshan Wellington
 
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moses : Is Notfn. 08/2014-CE (NT) do have retrospective effect?
Wellington : Insertion was made in Rule 9(1) of CER 2002. Proviso was not amended. Thus the notfn. cannot have re...