Legal Maxim

Home » Ejusdem Generis


Literal Meaning

Of the same kind

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The maxim refers to where a law lists specific classes of persons or things and then refers them in general, the general statements only apply to the same kind of persons or things specifically listed. Normally, general words should be given their natural meaning like all the other words, unless the context requires otherwise. However, when general words follow specific words of distinct categories, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category.

It generally means, when general words in a statutory text are flanked by restricted words, the meaning of the general words are taken to be restricted by implication with the meaning of restricted words. It may be regarded as an instance of ellipsis, or reliance on implication.

Illustration

If a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motor-powered vehicles, a court might use ejusdem generis to hold that such vehicles would not include airplanes, because the list included only land-based transportation.

Case Laws

In Rajasthan State Electricity vs. Mohan Lal & Ors, the Supreme Court held that “The ejusdem generis rule is one to be applied with caution and not pushed too far. To invoke the application of the ejusdem generis rule there must be a distinct genus or category. The specific words must apply not too different objects of a widely differing character but to something which can be called a class or kind of objects.”

In Jage Ram And Ors vs. State of Haryana And Ors, the apex court held that “The modem tendency of the law, it was said, is “to attenuate the application of the rule of ejusdem generis. To invoke the application of the ejusdem generis rule there must be a distinct genus or category. The specific words must apply not to different objects of a widely differing character but to something which can be, called a class or kind of objects.”