Doctrine of Parimateria in interpretation of statutes
It is no doubt a recognized rule of interpretation, that where statutes are parimateria that is to say, are so far related as to form a system or code of legislation, such Acts are to be taken together as forming one system and as interpreting and enforcing each other. It is permissible to read the provisions of the two Acts together when the same are complementary to each other. The principle of parimateria is based on the idea that there is continuity of legislative approach in such acts and common terminology is used. No change in meaning should be attributed unless this was intended.
Lord Mansfield has observed that:
“Statues in parimateria are to be all taken as one system to suppress the mischief..... The two laws are only parts of the same provision”.
In respect of definitions it has been observed “Where a term is used without definition in one Act, but is defined in another Act which is in parimateria with the first Act, the definition may be treated as applicable to the use of the term in the first Act. This may be done even where the definition is contained in a later Act.”
The sole question to apply this doctrine is whether, in borrowing the word, Parliament also intended to borrow its previous processing. This can be a very difficult matter to determine. One test is whether the two Acts are in parimateria.
Considerations for parimateria act:
There are certain considerations discussed in Bennion on Statutory Interpretation for terming acts to be paramateria and the same has been referred to by the Delhi High Court in Raees-Uz-Zama and Anr. v. State NCT of Delhi.
The conditions are as follows:
1. Acts which have been given a collective title. This is a recognition by Parliament that the Acts have a single subject matter.
2. Acts which are required to be construed as one. Again there is parliamentary recognition of a single subject matter.
3. Acts having short titles that the identical (apart from the calendar year).
4. Other Acts which deal with the same subject matter on the same lines. Here it must be remembered that the Latin word part or paris means equal, and not merely similar. Such Acts are sometimes described as forming a code. This does not mean that the Acts are codifying Acts however.
If the Acts are in parimateria it is assumed that uniformity of language and meaning was intended, attracting the same considerations as arise from the linguistic canon of construction that an Act is to be construed as a whole. This principle governing Acts in parimateria was thus expressed by twelve judges to mean such Acts ‘are to be taken together as forming one system, and as interpreting and enforcing each other. In other words they are to be construed as one, whether or not the relevant enactment expressly requires this. This has been applied even to repealed Acts within a group’.
The doctrine of parimateria is a useful tool for 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 a doubt about their meaning are to be understood in the sense in which they best harmonize with the subject of the enactment and the object which the legislature has in view. The doctrine helps in harmonizing the aim and subject of the legislations.
Thus, to summarize, statutes are considered to be in parimateria to pertain to the same subject-matter when they relate to the same person or things, or to the same class of persons or thing, or have the same purpose or object. The doctrine of ‘parimateria’provides that reference to other statutes dealing with the same subject or forming part of the same system is a permissible aid to the construction of provisions in a statute. Where there are different statutes in parimateria, though made at different times, or even expired and not referring to each other, they shall be taken and construed together, as one system and as explanatory to each other. The effect of this is in one sense to supply the equity of the statute; but in truth no more is done than to construe the statute according to its plain language, though the effect of the construction is incidentally and equitably to deny to local authorities an overriding privilege, such as would exempt them from all forms of injunction.
Rationale behind the rule
It is to be inferred, that a code of statutes relating to one subject was governed by one spirit and policy and, intended to be consistent and harmonious in its several parts and provisions. It is therefore an established rule of law, that all Acts in parimateria are to be taken together as if 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 view. The rationale behind this rule is based on the interpretative assumption that words employed in legislations are used in an identical sense. However, this assumption is rebuttable by the context of the statutes.
The rule is thus an extension of the principle that the whole statute is to be viewed and compared in all its parts, in order to ascertain the meaning of any of its parts. All laws relating to a particular matter or subject, that is laws in parimateria bear the same relation to any law within the group or system as the whole statute bears to any of its several parts. The application of this rule of construction has the merit of avoiding any apparent contradiction between a series of statues dealing with the same subject, it allows the use of an earlier statute to throw light on the meaning of a phrase used in a later statute in the same context, it permits the raising of a presumption, in the absence of any context indicating a contrary intention, that the same meaning attaches to the same words in a later statute as in an earlier statute if the words are used in similar connection in the two statutes, and it enables the use of a later statute as parliamentary exposition of the meaning of ambiguous expressions in an earlier statute.
Application of the doctrine:
This doctrine thus provides that all legislations pertaining to labour regulatory regime or taxation, inter alia, others can be used to interpret the legislations belonging to the same genre. There are certain cases wherein the Court has used the said doctrine to derive meaning for certain words not defined in the Act in question. However, care must be taken while importing meaning of words from other legislations. When a word is not defined in the Act itself, it is permissible to refer to dictionaries or any similar legislations to find out the sense in which that word is understood. However, in selecting one out of the various meanings of a word, regard must always be had to the context as it is a fundamental rule that “the meanings of words and expressions used in an Act must take their colour from the context in which they appear”. Therefore, “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”.
In the matter of J.K. Steal Ltd. v. Union of India and Ors, the Hon'ble Supreme Court, while considering parimateria provisions of Central Excises and Salt Act, held that Acts being in parimateria must be taken together as forming one code and as interpreting and enforcing each other.
Referring to its earlier judgment in the matter of C.A. Abraham v. I.T.O., Kottayam it was observed that “In interpreting a fiscal statute the Court cannot proceed to make good deficiencies if there may be any; the Court must interpret the statute as it stands and in case of doubt in a manner favourable to the tax payer.”
However, the majority in J.K.Steel case did not accept the contention that an entry in the Excise Act could be interpreted with reference to a similar entry in Tariff Act which was in parimateria with the Excise Act. Justice Sirki, who delivered the majority judgment observed as under:
“I am not able to appreciate how the insertion of item No. 63(36) in the First Schedule of the Tariff Act or the subsequent amendment of the Indian Tariff Act, 1934, by Indian Tariff (Amendment Act) 1963 throw any light on the interpretation of item 26AA(i)”.
Justice Hegde who gave the minority opinion appear 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 surrounding circumstances showed that they were so incorporated for a common purpose.
Another important aspect of such interpretation is that the socio-legal aspect of legislations is also considered before the acts are considered to be parimateria. Acts such as the Ceiling Act and the Tenancy Act which have been implemented with the intention achieving various socio-economic plans have to be read in a complementary manner. Any interpretation to the contrary can create contradiction and it would become impossible to achieve the goals set out in the legislations. It is, therefore, necessary to take a constructive attitude ininterpreting provisions of these types and determine the main aim of the particular Act in question for adjudication before the Court. Similarly, in another Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 was to be read along with other labour legislations like Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 as they strived to achieve the same socio-legal aspect of welfare of labor force.
In Employees State Insurance Corporation, Madras v. S.M. Sriramulu Naidu, it was held that this doctrine could not be used to say that the Factories Act and the Employees State Insurance Act are, in parimateria, though they were enacted in the same year and both of them were intended to benefit the wage earners. The Court said that the Factories Act was essentially concerned with the regulation of the factory in the interests and for the safety of the worker, a person employed in the manufacturing process or in any work incidental thereto. Whereas the Factories Act was essentially concerned with the regulation of the factory in the interests and for the safety of the worker, a person employed in the manufacturing process or in any work incidental thereto. Thus, both could not be treated to be in the same genre.
The Court referred to the Heydon’s case and held:
“That for the sure and true interpretation of all statutes in general (be they penal or beneficial, restrictive of enlarging of the common law), four things are to be discerned and considered. What was the common law before the making of the Act? What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide? What remedy the Parliament hath resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the commonwealth? The true reason of the remedy. And then the office of all the Judges is always to make such construction as shall suppress the mischief and advance the remedy, and to suppress subtle inventions and evasions for the continuance of the mischief and pro privatocommodo, and to add force and life to the cure and remedy according to the true intent of the makers of the Act pro bono publico.”
The Andhra Pradesh High Court in RCI Power Limited v. Union of India, referred to J.K.Steel case and held that the Reforms Act, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission Act (Central Enactment), the Electricity Act, and the Supply Act are cognate legislations and the State Commission constituted under Central Act is vested with the power to determine the tariff payable for the use of transmission facilities by the Generating Company in the manner provided in Section 29 of that Act.
In State of Madhya Pradesh v. M.V. Narasimhan, it has been observed as under:-
“It seems to us that even if Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 had not applied the provisions of the Penal Code and had not defined public servant, then the provisions of the Penal Code would have come into operation by implied reference because the Act was a supplemental Act to the Penal Code. It was only by way of abundant caution that Section 2 of the Act incorporated the definition of "public servant" as mentioned in Section 21 of the Penal Code and in that sense alone the Act can be treated as being parimateria with the Penal Code. For these reasons, therefore, we are clearly of the opinion that the judgment of the High Court holding that the respondent was not a public servant is legally erroneous and cannot be allowed to stand.”
In the case of Shah & Co., Bombay v. The State of Maharashtra &Anr, the Rent Act and the Requisition Act were not considered to be paramateria as the Rent Actwas enactedfor the purpose of amending and consolidating the law relating to the control of rents and repairs of certain premises, of rates of hotels and lodging houses and of evictions. The Requisition Act was passed to provide for the requisition of land, for the continuance of requisition of land and for certain other purposes. It will therefore be seen that this Act deals with a matter, so totally different from that dealt with by the Rent Act.There is absolutely no similarity between the two enactments; and we cannot hold that the Requisition Act relates to the same person or thing, or to the same class of persons or things, as the Rent Act. Hence the two Acts were not considered to be in parimateria.
In State of. Madras v. VaidyanathaIyer, the definition of “shall presume” in the Evidence Act and the words “it shall be presumed” in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 were considered to be the same. In State Of Assam And Another v. Deva Prasad Barua& Another , section 19 of Assam Agricultural Income Tax Act, 1939 was held to be similar to section 22 of the Income Tax Act, 1922. In Dy. Chief Controller Of Imports and Exports, New Delhi v. K. T. Kosalram, the Indian Tariff Act, 1934 and Import and Exports ( Control) Act 1947, were considered to be throwing some light on each other as bothstatutes formed part of the Import Control Scheme of the Government.
Thus, to conclude the doctrine plays a significant role in bridging the gaps in interpretation of similar statues. The legislation aiming at the same goals have to be read together in order to give effect to the provisions in the statutes. The doctrine has provided a guide to the Courts to interpret and import meaning from legislation working for the same aim and objective. The case laws discussed above clearly show that the Court delve into the working and aim of various legislations in order to term Acts as paramateria. Hence, the doctrine is an important tool to interpret and effectively enforce legislations.
# Craies on Statute Law, 5th Edn.page 125).
# Board of Trustees of The Port of Bombay v. Sriyanesh Knitters, AIR1999SC2947.
# Raees-Uz-Zama and Anr. v. State NCT of Delhi, I(2014)CCR96(Del.), 206(2014)DLT578.
# Timmins v. Rowlison (1764) 1 Wm B1 533.
# Bennion on Statutory Interpretation, Fifth Edition, page 709.
# I(2014)CCR96(Del.), 206(2014)DLT578.
# Ahmedabad Pvt. Primary Teachers Association v. Administrative Officer AndOrs, AIR 2004 SC 1426.
# Palmer's Case [(1785) 1 Leach C.C. 4th ed.. 355]
# Union of India v. Authority under The Minimum Wages Act and Ors, AIR1969Bom310.
# Sirsilk Ltd. v. Textiles Committee and Ors, 1989 Supp (1) Supreme Court Cases 168, "Statutes and Statutory Construction" by Sutherland, Statutes and Statutory Construction, Vol.2, p.535, 3rd edn, United Society v. # Eagle Bank[(1829) 7 Conn.457,470].
# Ahmedabad Pvt. Primary Teachers' Association v. Administrative Officer and Ors, AIR2004SC1426.
# Maxwell on Interpretation of Statute, 9th Edition, pages 35.
# Oraise on Statute Law, 6th Edition, page 103.
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# The Bangalore Turf Club Ltd. v. Regional Director, Employees State Insurance Corporation, (2014)9SCC657.
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# AIR 1958 SC 61.
# 1969 AIR 831, 1969 SCR (1) 698.
# 1971 AIR 1283, 1971 SCR (2) 507.
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