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Literal Meaning

Of the same matter; on the same subject




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.

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