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Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus

Literal Meaning

A person making contradictory allegations are not to be heard

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The legal maxim ‘Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus’ means that a person adducing to the contrary is not to be heard. This is the principle of good faith that a person should not be allowed to testify hot and cold at different times about the same event, in other words, he/she should not give contradictory statements. It is a concept of common sense and used to bring cross-examinations to an abrupt end.

The legal maxim is based on common sense and common justice and it is called ‘estoppel’ or any other name which is generally used in courts. In simple terms, the maxim means that if a person states something in good faith on one event and says the contrary about the same event, that shall not be allowed. The contradiction in the statements is likely to give the benefit of the doubt in cross-examinations to invalidate the statements. Thus, it can be comprehended by the principle that a person producing contradictory statements shall not be heard in a court of law.

Case laws

In the case of Hiralal Maganlal and Co. vs. Dcit, it was stated by the Hon’ble court that the principle of Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus will be upheld as the instant case involved provisions under the Income Tax act and it was argued that  Section 115 of Indian Evidence Act will not apply, however, it was held by the court that since section 115 of the Indian Evidence Act  provides statutory recognition of the said principle which is applicable to all the judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings, the principle of Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus shall be considered.

In case of Vallapareddy Sumitra Reddy and others vs. Kasireddy Laxminarayana Reddy and Ors.,it was held by the Hon’ble Court that the principle of Allegans Contraria Non-Est Audiendus means a party cannot be allowed to approbate and reprobate. It means that no one shall state contradictory things to each other. This maxim is applied in form of ‘estoppel’ in the said court proceedings.


This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Arushi Lamba during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Arushi is a 4th-year law student of Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Nova Constitutio Futuris Formam Imponere Debet, Non Praeteritis

Literal Meaning

A new law ought to regulate what is to follow, not the past.

Origin

Latin

Explanation

To understand the meaning of the above legal maxim, it can be said that a new state of the law is supposed to affect the future, not the past. It means that the cardinal principle of construction that every statute is prospective in nature unless it has been stated to have retrospective operation. It implies that except in special cases the new law has been to construed so as to interfere as little as possible with already vested rights. It embodies a particular rule of construction which is valuable only when the words of the Act of the Parliament are not clear and plain. It means that a new law ought to be construed to interfere as little as possible with vested rights.

Case laws

In the case of Vallabhaneni Lakshmana Swamy and others vs. Valluru Basavaiah and others, the principle of Nova Consititutio Futuris Formmam Imponere Debt, Non-Praeteritis was applied and it was held by the Hon’ble Andhra Pradesh court that it is a cardinal principle of construction that every statute prima facie perspective, unless expressly or by necessary implication has been made to operate with retrospective effect. The rule, in general, is to impose new burdens to the impair existing obligations.

In the case of Secretary Shivdatt education trust and another vs. Ramlochan Rajbali Patel and others, it was stated by the Hon’ble court that unless there are words in the statute sufficient to show the intention of the Legislature to affect existing rights. It is deemed to be prospective as per the principle of Nova Consititutio Futuris Formmam Imponere Debt, Non-Praeteritis- a new law ought to be regulated what to follow, not the past.


This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Arushi Lamba during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Arushi is a 4th-year law student of Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Pari Materia

Literal Meaning

Of the same matter; on the same subject

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The doctrine of Pari Materia is a useful tool for the interpretation of statutes that work towards the same objective. It is an ordinary rule of interpretation of statutes that the words of a statute when there is uncertainty about their meaning are to be perceived in the sense in which they best harmonize with the subject of the enactment and the object which the legislature has in see. The doctrine helps in harmonizing the aim and subject of the legislation. It is a doctrine in statutory construction that statutes that are in pari materia must be construed together.

To summarize, statutes are considered to be in pari materia to pertain to the same subject-matter when they relate to the same individual or things, or to the same class of people or thing, or have the same reason or object. The doctrine of ‘pari materia’ provides that reference to different statutes dealing with the same subject or shaping part of the same system is a permissible aid to the construction of provisions in a statute. Where there are various statutes in pari materia, however, made at various occasions, or even lapsed and not alluding to each other, they shall be taken and construed together, as one system and as explanatory to each other. It is to be gathered, that a code of statutes relating to one subject was administered by one spirit and policy and, planned to be consistent and harmonious in its several parts and provisions. It is along these lines an established rule of law, that all Acts in pari materia are to be taken together as in the event that they were one Law, and they are directed to be compared in the construction of statutes because they are considered as framed upon one system, and having one object in seeing. The rationale behind this rule is based on the interpretative assumption that words utilized in legislations are utilized in an identical sense. Nonetheless, this assumption is rebuttable by the context of the statutes.

Considerations for Pari Materia

This doctrine consequently gives that all legislations pertaining to labor regulatory system or taxation, inter alia, others can be utilized to interpret the legislations having a place with the same sort. There are certain cases wherein the Court has utilized the said doctrine to derive the meaning for certain words not characterized in the Act being referred to. At the point when a word isn’t characterized in the Act itself, it is permissible to allude to dictionaries or any similar legislations to discover the sense in which that word is perceived. Notwithstanding, in selecting one out of the various meanings of a word, regard should always be to the context as it is a fundamental rule that ‘the meanings of words and expressions utilized in an Act must take their color from the context in which they appear’. Thus, ‘when the context makes the meaning of a word quite clear, it becomes unnecessary to search for and select a particular meaning out of the diverse meanings a word is capable of, according to lexicographers’.

There are certain considerations discussed in Bennion on Statutory Interpretation for naming acts to be pari materia and the same has been alluded to by the Delhi High Court in Raees-Uz-Zama and Anr. v. State NCT of Delhi.

The conditions are as per the following:

  1. Acts which have been given a collective title. This is a recognition by Parliament that the Acts have a solitary subject matter.
  2. Acts which are needed to be construed as one. Again, there is a parliamentary recognition of a solitary subject matter.
  3. Acts having short titles that the identical (apart from the calendar year).
  4. Different Acts that deal with the same subject matter on the same lines. Here it must be recollected that the Latin word part or paris means equal, and not only similar. Such Acts are once in a while described as shaping a code. This doesn’t mean that the Acts are codifying Acts in any case.

On the off chance that the Acts are in pari materia, it is assumed that uniformity of language and meaning was planned, attracting the same considerations as arise from the linguistic canon of construction that an Act is to be construed in general. This principle overseeing Acts in pari materia was accordingly communicated by twelve judges to mean such Acts ‘are to be taken together as shaping one system, and as interpreting and enforcing each other. At the end of the day, they are to be construed as one, regardless of whether the relevant enactment explicitly requires this. This has been applied even to repealed Acts inside a gathering’.

Case Laws

In the matter of J.K. Steel Ltd. vs. Union of India and Ors., the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while considering pari materia provisions of Central Excises and Salt Act held that Acts being in pari materia must be taken together as framing one code and as interpreting and enforcing each other.

Alluding to its earlier judgment in the matter of C.A. Abraham vs. I.T.O., Kottayam, it was seen that “In interpreting a fiscal statute the Court cannot proceed to make great deficiencies if there may be any; the Court must interpret the statute as it stands and in case of uncertainty in a manner favorable to the taxpayer.”

Nonetheless, the majority in J.K.Steel case didn’t accept the contention that a section in the Excise Act could be interpreted with reference to a similar passage in Tariff Act which was in pari materia with the Excise Act. Justice Sirki, who conveyed the majority judgment saw as under:

“I am not able to appreciate how the addition of thing No. 63(36) in the First Schedule of the Tariff Act or the ensuing amendment of the Indian Tariff Act, 1934, by Indian Tariff (Amendment Act) 1963 illuminate the interpretation of thing 26AA (i)”.

Justice Hegde who gave the minority supposition appears to have been based on two important factors which existed in that case, i.e., that both the said entries were inserted in the said statutes on one and the same day and the encompassing circumstances indicated that they were so incorporated for a common reason.


This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Himani Gautam during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Himani is a 5th-year law student at Surendranath Law College, Kolkata.

Vigilantibus Non Dormientibus Jura Subveniunt

Literal Meaning

The law assists only those who are vigilant, and not those who sleep over their rights.

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The maxim refers to the obligation of individuals to not only be aware of their rights under the law, but also to be vigilant while exercising or using the same. The legal process only benefits those who have been careful enough with their rights, instead of being ignorant. This maxim expands upon through the Limitation Act of 1963, which entails that if the suffered/ aggrieved party does not file a suit for relief within the stipulated period, for the breach of his rights, then it cannot be claimed at a later stage.

Any suit of legal right infringement will automatically be considered invalid if filed beyond the limitation period, prescribed by law. In the practical sense, other than the common civil suit actions, the special legislation on various subject matters specifically provides for a period of limitation. Such a maxim with supporting provisions is primarily to ensure that the legal system provides justice for those who realize legal damage.

Illustration

Filing an appeal at the High Court, in a civil suit from a lower Court, must be done within 90 days from the date of its decree or order. If X, the aggrieved party, approaches the High Court after the exhaustion of such a period, then the appeal would not be entertained, by application of this maxim.

Case Laws

In the case of Nacinchandra N. Majithia vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors (2000), the Supreme Court made a key observation with respect to the application of this maxim. Given the aphorism that ‘to err, is human’, could practically lead to unintentional situations despite being vigilant, which could attract the commission of an offense. The Courts should not always find means to pull down the shutters of adjudication before a party seeking justice, instead should take measures to entertain all possible cases of grievances, if it is genuine.

In the case of Vanka Radhamanohari v Vanke Venkata Reddy and Ors. [1993 (2) BLJR 875] “An exception to this maxim was observed in this which involved a criminal case of cruelty to a woman under Section 498-A. The Court observed that, given the gravity of the offense committed and with respect to the specific facts and circumstances of this case, the maxim would not be applicable in this case and the case will be admitted in case of offenses relating to cruelty against women.”


This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Ayushi Goyal during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Ayushi is a 4th-year law student at Christ University, Bangalore.

Noscitur A Sociis

Literal Meaning

The meaning of a word may be known from accompanying words

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The above principle is a rule of construction and is one of the rules of interpretation that is used by the courts to interpret the legislation. The translation of Noscitur a sociis is ‘the immediate context rule’ and underlines the importance of context in the statutory interpretation where two or more words are associated together, they should take their meaning from one another. This principle is also used in interpreting the questionable words in statutes when the word is ambiguous, so its meaning is derived with reference to the rest of the statute. This means that the meaning of an unclear word or phrase must be determined by the words that surround it. It can be said that the meaning of a word can be derived from the company it keeps. The questionable or doubtful meaning will derive a meaning when kept and determined from the associated words and is usually helpful when a statutory provision has a word or phrase that is capable of bearing two or more meanings.

The rule of interpretation is very well explained by Maxwell in his book of Interpretation of statutes in the following words- he states that when two or more words susceptible to analogous meaning are coupled together, they are to be used in their cognate sense. He comments that when the words take their color from and are quantified by each other, the meaning of the general words being restricted to the sense analogous to that of the less general. Thus, it can be comprehended that words in a list within a statue have meanings that are related to each other, and interpreting that word in an association of related words or phrases in a statute can help the court to interpret the exact meaning of the legislation. Therefore, this rule is more colloquially known as “birds of a feather flock together”.

Illustration

The eminent professor Graham illustrated the maxim with an example of the inability of an insured bankrupt to collect proceeds in the event of “illness, disability or death’. Bankruptcy means that there is a disability under the law since you cannot hold office and considered legally disabled. However, the rule of Noscitur a sociis says that in spite of this, no one can collect insurance since disability is associated or related by ‘illness’ and ‘death’. In this context, it is clear that the intention of the legislation is that ‘disability’ refers to the physical capacity as it is clear that this meaning can be determined in reference to the color of other words in this provision.

Case laws

in the case of Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Bharti cellular it was held that term ‘technical services’ used in section 194J of the Income Tax Act is unclear. The word technical would take colour from the words managerial & consultancy between which it is sandwiched. These terms ‘managerial services’ & ‘consultancy services’ necessarily involve human intervention. So, applying noscitur a sociis the word ‘technical’ would also have to be construed as involving a human element. Thus, interconnection & port access services rendered by the assessee do not involve any human interface & therefore cannot be regarded as technical services u/s 194J of the Income Tax Act.

In the case of Foster vs. Diphwys Casson, it was stated that a statute involved which stated that explosives taken into the mine must be in a “care or canister”. In the instant case, the defendant used a cloth bag and it was held that applying the principle of, the intention of the parliament was of using ‘care and container’ means using something of the strength of a container. Thus, it was held that the ‘bag’ does not fall under the statutory definition.

In the case of Parsons Brinckerhoff India (P) Ltd vs. Asstt. DIT (Int. Tax), applying the rule of noscitur a sociis held that the words “model” and “design” cannot fall under the definition of ‘royalty’ under explanation 2 of section 9 (I) (VI) of the Income Tax Act as they cannot relate or cannot be coupled with other words surrounding such as patent or invention or trademark.


This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Arushi Lamba during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Arushi is a 4th-year law student of Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Suppressio Veri or Suggestio Falsi

Literal Meaning

Suppression of truth or Suggestion of an untruth

Origin

Latin

Explanation

This maxim has emerged as a rule of equity, as well as a rule of law. It means that when with respect to a material fact of the case, either suppression of truth or suggestion of a false statement is proven, then the injured party can seek relief. Both of these are considered to be equally wrong. This maxim is most often useful to rescind the contracts entered between parties, in order to ensure that all material facts are disclosed whilst making any agreement. Therefore, an important facet of this maxim is observed under the principle of good faith under general contracts as well as under special legislations like insurance contracts.

Illustration

X and Y enter into a contract of sale of a horse, but X does not reveal the bad medical condition of the horse knowingly, in order to facilitate the sale. Such a contract will become invalid and voidable at the option of Y, on account of this maxim.

Case Laws

In K.K.Anathan Pillai v State of Kerala [AIR 1968 Ker 234], during an ex parte proceeding, the party that had appeared, did not disclose the complete material facts in order to get a stay order in their favor. Later, when the Court discovered this, it was held that such a stay order issued on untrue facts would be deemed invalid.

In Nand Lal v. State of Jammu & Kashmir [AIR 1960 JK 19], it was held that when the relevant facts of the case are not correctly and precisely mentioned in the petition, then by application of this maxim, the writ petition will be dismissed, without going into the merits of the case.

In Ravindra Ramesh Barkul v Executive Engineer (2017), observed that before holding any person guilty for an offense, this maxim should be applied to confirm that the knowledge of the fact is attributable to him.


This Maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Ayushi Goyal during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Ayushi is a 4th-year law student of Christ University, Bangalore.