CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5354 OF 2002
Markandey Katju, J.
1. This appeal by special leave has
been filed against the impugned judgment of the Division Bench of the
Delhi High Court dated 10.1.2002 in LPA No. 665 of 2001.
2. Heard Shri R.L. Kapoor, learned
counsel for the appellant and Shri Amarendra Saran, learned Addl.
Solicitor General for the respondent.
3. The facts of the case are that
the appellant and his wife are living together at their residence in
Rajouri Garden, Delhi. At that residence, there is one telephone line
bearing No. 5121187 in the name of appellant Surjit Singh and there is
also another telephone line bearing No. 5416493 at the same residence in
the name of the appellant's wife. There is a third telephone line
bearing No. 3265301 in the name of the appellant and installed at the
business premises of the appellant at 1195, Chahrahat Building, Jama
4. It appears that there were
arrears of telephone dues in connection with line No. 5416493 which was
in the name of the appellant's wife. For non-payment of the telephone
dues in connection with this line, the other two lines in the name of
the appellant being 5121187 at his residential premises and line No.
3265301 at his business premises were disconnected.
5. The contention of the appellant
was that the telephone lines in his own name being line No. 5121187 at
his residence and line No. 3265301 at his business premises should not
be disconnected on account of non-payment of dues in connection with the
line in the name of his wife being line No. 5416493. He contended that
he and his wife are two separate legal entities, and he could not be
penalized for the fault of his wife.
6. The appellant filed a writ
petition in the Delhi High Court which was dismissed by a learned Single
Judge by his judgment dated 25.9.2001 and his appeal before the Division
Bench of the High Court was also dismissed by the impugned judgment
dated 10.1.2002. Hence, this appeal before this Court.
7. Learned counsel for the appellant
has relied on Rule 443 of the Indian Telegraph Rules which states:
"443. Default of payment -- If, on or before the due date, the rent or
other charges in respect of the telephone service provided are not paid
by the subscriber in accordance with these rules, or bills for charges
in respect of calls of phonograms or other dues from the subscriber are
not duly paid by him, any telephone or telephones or any telex service
rented by him, may be disconnected without notice. The telephone or
telephones, or the telex so disconnected may, if the Telegraph Authority
thinks fit, be restored, if the defaulting subscriber pays the
outstanding dues and the reconnection fee together with the rental for
such portion of the intervening period as may be prescribed by the
Telegraph Authority from time to time. The subscriber shall pay all the
above charges within such period as may be prescribed by the telegraph
authority from time to time."
8. Learned counsel for the appellant
submitted that in view of Rule 443 the telephone lines in the name of
the appellant could not have been disconnected because of non-payment of
dues in respect of the line in the name of his wife.
9. Learned counsel for the appellant
invited our attention to the decision of a Learned Single Judge of the
Bombay High Court in Dr. B.V. Manek vs. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd
AIR 1996 Bom 53. We have carefully perused the aforesaid decision and
find that it is distinguishable. In that case, the telephone line of the
petitioner had been disconnected because of non-payment of the dues of
another line which was in the name of his father. The learned Single
Judge of the High Court held that the Department cannot disconnect the
telephone of the subscriber on account of the default committed by a
relation of such subscriber. It has not been mentioned in the said
decision of the Bombay High Court that the petitioner's father was
economically dependent on the petitioner.
10. In the present case which is
before us it has come on the record that the appellant's wife is a
housewife who is living with the appellant at his residential premises
at Rajouri Garden, Delhi. It has not been alleged that the appellant's
wife has an independent source of income by doing some business or by
some service etc. In these circumstances, it can be inferred that the
payment of the bill of the telephone line in the name of the appellant's
wife was being made by the appellant himself, since his wife has no
independent source of income and is economically dependent on him.
11. In our opinion, we have to draw
a distinction between the cases where a relative who though living in
the same house has an independent source of income, and cases where one
relative is dependent on another. While in the former case if there are
two different lines, one in the name of the relative who is economically
independent and has his own source of income and the other in the name
of the petitioner, it could be held that non-payment of dues by the
relative cannot lead to the consequence of the disconnection of the
telephone line of the petitioner. However, in the latter category of
cases i.e. where one relative is economically dependent on another, the
position, in our opinion, is wholly different. For instance, if there is
a telephone line in the name of a minor child of a father, and another
telephone line in the name of the father, and both of them are living
together in the same house, then obviously the telephone bills of the
telephone line in the name of the minor child is being paid by the
father. Hence, in our opinion, for non-payment of the bills of the
telephone line in the name of the minor child, the telephone line of the
father can be disconnected.
12. Similarly, there can be a case
where the husband and wife are living in the same house and both have
independent sources of income, and the wife herself is paying for the
bills in connection with the telephone line in her own name, whereas the
husband is paying for the bills of his own telephone line. In such a
case, for non-payment of the bill of the wife the telephone line of the
husband cannot be disconnected.
13. As stated above, in the judgment
of the learned Single Judge of the Bombay High Court, it is not
mentioned that the father was economically dependent on the petitioner.
Hence, the aforesaid decision can be of no help in deciding the present
dispute, since necessary factual details are lacking.
14. Learned counsel for the
appellant then invited our attention to the decision of a learned Single
Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Y. Pridhvi Kumar vs. The
General Manager, Telecom District, Hyderabad AIR 1993 AP 131. We have
carefully perused the said decision and find that that decision is also
distinguishable. In the said decision it appears that there was a
telephone line in the name of the mother and another telephone line in
the name of the son, and both were living together. There were dues in
the name of the mother and it was held by the Andhra Pradesh High Court
that in that situation the liability could not be fastened on the son
and his telephone line could not be disconnected. It is not clear from
the aforesaid decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court whether the
mother was economically dependent on her son. It is quite possible that
the mother was economically dependent on her husband who was paying her
bills. It is also possible that the mother was a working woman with an
independent source of income. Hence, the appellant in the present case
cannot derive any benefit from the aforesaid decision of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court.15. Learned counsel for the appellant also sought to
rely on the decision in Santokh Singh vs. Divisional Engineer,
Telephones, Shillong and others AIR 1990 Gauhati 47. However, it
appears that an appeal was filed against the aforesaid judgment in
this Court being Civil Appeal No. 2849/1991 titled Divisional Engineer
Telephone & Ors. vs. Sardar Santokh Singh decided on 22.4.2001 by
this Court. In the said decision it was held that the judgment of the
Gauhati High Court in Santokh Singh vs. Divisional Engineer Telephone
& Ors shall not be treated as a precedent.
16. On the other hand, learned
counsel for the respondent has relied on the decision of a Division
Bench of the Delhi High Court in Madan Tayal & Pran Kr. Tayal vs.
MTNL 1989 (16) DRJ 51, the decision of a learned Single Judge of the
Delhi High Court in Rajiv Gosain vs. MTNL in Civil Writ Petition No.
6343/1981 decided on 20.4.2000, and the decision of a learned Single
Judge of Delhi High Court in Sukh Dayal Narula vs. MTNL in Civil
Writ Petition No. 1693/1996 decided on 26.9.1997. In these decisions the
Delhi High Court has held that the telephone line of a subscriber can be
disconnected for non-payment of dues of a relative who is living in the
same premises. Learned counsel also relied on the decision of the
Gujarat High Court in Indravadan Pranlal Shah vs. General Manager,
Ahmedabad Telephones District Kharpur, Ahmedabad & Anr. AIR 1990 Guj
85 in which it was held that the telephone of the petitioner can be
disconnected if there is failure by the firm in which he is a partner to
pay the dues of the telephone line in the name of the firm.
17. Learned counsel for the
appellant has invited our attention to Rule 2(pp) of the Indian
Telegraph Rules, 1951 which defines a 'subscriber' as follows:
" 'Subscriber' means a person to
whom a telephone service has been provided by means of an installation
under these rules or under an agreement".
18. Learned counsel for the
appellant submitted that in view of the definition of subscriber in Rule
2(pp), the telephone lines in the name of the appellant could not have
been disconnected for default in the payment of dues in connection with
the telephone line in the name of his wife.
19. We have already stated above
that where two relatives are living in the same house a distinction has
to be drawn between a telephone line in the name of a person who is
economically dependent on another (who may be the husband, father etc.),
and the telephone line in the name of a person who has an independent
source of income from which he is paying the telephone bills. In the
case of the former, i.e. a person who is economically dependent on
another who is paying his telephone bills, the telephone line in the
name of such other relative on whom the subscriber is dependent can be
disconnected for non-payment of the telephone bills of the nominal
20. Learned counsel for the
appellant protested that such an interpretation would be in the teeth of
the language used in Rule 443 read with Rule 2(pp) of the Indian
21. It is true that on a literal
interpretation of Rule 443, we would have to accept the contention of
learned counsel for the appellant. However, in our opinion, in this
case, the literal rule has not to be adopted, because we have also to
see the intention of the rule. The intention obviously was that payment
of telephone dues should be made promptly, otherwise the telephone
department will suffer. We have, therefore, to take an interpretation
which effectuates and furthers the intention of Rule 443, i.e. the
telephone bills should be paid in time.
22. In the case of a wife who is a
housewife and is economically dependent on her husband, obviously the
telephone bills in connection with the line in her name are being paid
by her husband and not by herself. Hence, we have to adopt a purposive
construction in this case and not go by the literal rule of
23. Though, no doubt, ordinarily the
literal rule should be applied while interpreting a statute or statutory
rule, but the literal rule is not always the only rule of interpretation
of a provision in a statute, and in exceptional cases the literal rule
can be departed from. As observed in the Constitution Bench decision of
this Court in R.L. Arora vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and others
1964 (6) SCR 784:
"Further, a literal interpretation
is not always the only interpretation of a provision in a statute, and
the court has to look at the setting in which the words are used and the
circumstances in which the law came to be passed to decide whether there
is something implicit behind the words actually used which would control
the literal meaning of the words used in a provision of the statute. It
is permissible to control the wide language used in a statute if that is
possible by the setting in which the words are used and the intention of
the law-making body which may be apparent from the circumstances in
which the particular provision came to be made."
24. Hence it follows that to interpret a statute one has to sometimes
consider the context in which it has been made and the purpose and
object which it seeks to achieve. A too literal interpretation may
sometimes frustrate the very object of the statute, and such an approach
should be eschewed by the Court.
25. In Hindustan Lever Ltd. vs.
Ashok Vishnu Kate and others 1995(6) SCC 326 (vide para 42) this
"Francis Bennion in his Statutory
Interpretation Second Edn., has dealt with the Functional Construction
Rule in Part XV of his book. The nature of purposive construction is
dealt with in Part XX at p. 659 thus:
"A purposive construction of an
enactment is one which gives effect to the legislative purpose by-
(a) following the literal meaning of the enactment where that meaning is
in accordance with the legislative purpose (in this Code called a
purposive-and-literal construction), or
(b) applying a strained meaning
where the literal meaning is not in accordance with the legislative
purpose (in the Code called a purposive and strained construction)."
At p. 661 of the same book, the
author has considered the topic of "Purposive Construction" in contrast
with literal construction. The learned author has observed as under:
"Contrast with literal construction
- Although the term 'purposive construction' is not new, its entry into
fashion betokens a swing by the appellate courts away from literal
construction. Lord Diplock said in 1975: 'If one looks back to the
actual decisions of the [House of Lords] on questions of statutory
construction over the last 30 years one cannot fail to be struck by the
evidence of a trend away from the purely literal towards the purposive
construction of statutory provisions'. The matter was summed up by Lord
Diplock in this way -
...I am not reluctant to adopt a purposive construction where to apply
the literal meaning of the legislative language used would lead to
results which would clearly defeat the purposes of the Act. But in doing
so the task on which a court of justice is engaged remains one of
construction, even where this involves reading into the Act words which
are not expressly included in it."
We respectfully agree with the view expressed above.
26. In our opinion, in this case, a
purposive construction has to be adopted in interpreting Rule 443 of the
Indian Telegraph Rules.
27. We may also consider the matter
from the point of view of our traditional principles of interpretation.
The great Sanskrit grammarian Nagesh Bhatt in his book 'Param Laghu
Manjusha' has said that a word or phrase can have three meanings:
"(i) Abhidha i.e. literal meaning; (ii) Lakshana
i.e. the indicative or suggestive meaning; (iii) Vyanjana
i.e. the figurative meaning.
Usually the literal meaning is
followed, but some times the suggestive or figurative meanings are
adopted. As regards the suggestive meaning (Lakshana) the oft quoted
example is 'xaxk;ke~ a?kks"k' : i.e. "I live on the Ganges." This
sentence cannot be literally interpreted because no one can live on the
surface of the Ganges river. Hence it has to be interpreted to mean "I
live on the bank of the Ganga river."
As regards the third meaning
Vyanjana, the oft quoted example is 'xrks vLredZ' which means:
"The sun has set." Here the real meaning has in fact nothing to do with
the sun or its setting, but it really means "light the lamp" or "let us
go home" (because the sun has set).
28. In our opinion, in the present
case, we have to adopt the Lakshana (or Linga) rule of interpretation
rather than the Shruti or Abidha (the literal) rule. In other words,
Rule 443 of the Indian Telegraph Rule has to be interpreted in a
purposive sense. Hence the telephone line in the name of the person who
is really paying the bills in connection with the telephone line in the
name of another person who is economically dependent on the former can
be disconnected for non payment of bills in connection with the
telephone line in the name of the latter. Such an interpretation would
effectuate the intention of Rule 443, which is that telephone bills
should be paid promptly.
29. Also, it would make no
difference whether the telephone line is at the residence or at the
business premises, even if the two are entirely separate. Hence in our
opinion both the telephone lines in the name of the appellant, one at
his residence and the other at his business premises, can be
disconnected for non-payment of the dues in connection with the line in
the name of his dependent wife.
30. We can also utilize the Mimansa
Rules of Interpretation in interpreting Rule 443.
31. It is deeply regrettable that in
our Courts of law, lawyers quote Maxwell and Craies but nobody refers to
the Mimansa Principles of Interpretation. Today our so-called educated
people are largely unaware about the great intellectual achievements of
our ancestors and the intellectual treasury they have bequeathed us. The
Mimansa Principles of Interpretation is part of that intellectual
treasury, but it is distressing to note that apart from a reference to
these principles in the judgment of Sir John Edge, the then Chief
Justice of Allahabad High Court, in Beni Prasad v. Hardai Devi (1892)
ILR 14 All 67 (FB), there has been almost no utilization of these
principles even in our own country (except by one of us, M. Katju, J.).
32. It may be mentioned that the
Mimansa Rules of Interpretation were our traditional principles of
interpretation used for over two and a half thousand years, laid down by
Jaimini whose Sutras were explained by Shabar, Kumarila Bhatta,
Prabhakar, etc. These Mimansa Principles were regularly used by our
great jurists like Vijnaneshwara (Author of Mitakshara), Jimutvahana
(author of Dayabhaga), Nanda Pandit, etc. whenever they found any
conflict between the various Smritis or any ambiguity or incongruity
therein. There is no reason why we cannot use these principles on
appropriate occasions. However, it is a matter of deep regret that these
principles have rarely been used in our law Courts. It is nowhere
mentioned in our Constitution or any other law that only Maxwell's
Principles of Interpretation can be used by the Court. We can use any
system of interpretation which helps us solve a difficulty. In certain
situations Maxwell's principles would be more appropriate, while in
other situations the Mimansa principles may be more suitable.
33. The books on Mimansa are almost
all in Sanskrit, but there is one good book called the 'Mimansa Rules of
Interpretation' by Prof. K.L. Sarkar published in the Tagore Law Lecture
Series, which may be seen.
34. It may be mentioned that the
Mimansa Rules of Interpretation were created for resolving the practical
difficlties in performing the Vedic yagyas. The rules for performing the
various yagyas were given in books called Brahmanas e.g. Shatapath
Brahman, Aitareya Brahman, Taitereya Brahman, etc. There were many
ambiguities, conflicts, incongruities, ellipses etc. in the Brahmana
texts, and hence principles of interpretation had to be created for this
purpose. Thus the Mimansa principles were originally created for
religious purposes, but they were so rational and logical that
subsequently they began to be used in law, grammar, logic, philosophy
etc., that is, they became of universal application.
35. Jaimini in Sutra 6: 3: 9 states:
"When there is a conflict between
the purpose and the material, the purpose is to prevail, because in the
absence of the prescribed material a substitute can be used, for the
material is subordinate to the purpose".
36. To explain this it may be
mentioned that the Brahmanas state that the prescribed Yupa (sacrificial
post for tying the sacrificial animal) must be made of Khadir Wood.
However, Khadir wood is weak while the animal tied may be restive.
Hence, the Mimansa principle (stated above) permits that the Yupa can be
made of Khadar wood which is strong. Now this substitution is being made
despite the fact that the prescribed wood is Khadir, but this
prescription is only subordinate or accessory to the performance of the
yagya, which is the main object. Hence, if it comes in the way of the
yagya being performed, it can be modified or substituted.
37. In this connection we may also
refer to the Wooden Sword Maxim (Sphadi Nyaya), which is a well known
Maxim in the Mimansa system. This Maxim states "what is prescribed as a
means to an action, is to be taken in a sense suited to the performance
of the action" (vide Jaimini 3:1:2, quoted in the book 'Mimansa Rules of
Interpretation' by K.L. Sarkar at p. 185). The word ' Spha' in Sanskrit
means a sword, which is normally a metallic object for cutting. However,
'Spha' in connection with a Yagya has to be interpreted as a wooden
sword, because in a Yagya a small wooden sword called 'Spha' is used
which is a pushing instrument (as a Yagya requires no cutting
instrument, but only a pushing instrument). Thus, 'Sphadi Nyaya' implies
that we have to see the object of the text to correctly interpret it.
38. In the Mimansa system, the
literal rule of interpretation is called the Shruti (or Abhida)
principle, and ordinarily it is this principle which is to be applied
when interpreting a text. However, there are exceptional situations when
we have to depart from the literal rule and then certain other
principles have to be resorted to e.g. (1) the Linga (also called
Lakshana) principle or the suggestive power of words or expressions, (2)
the Vakya principle or syntactical arrngement, (3) the Prakarana
principle, which permits construction by referring to other texts in
order to make the meaning clear, (4) the Sthana (position) principle
which means the relative position of one text with reference to another,
(5) the Samakhya (name) principle which means the connection between
different passages by the indication accorded by the derivative words of
a compound name.
39. In the present case we are of
the opinion that the Linga (Lakshana) principle will apply.
40. Linga really means
interpretation by understanding the context, and it is a departure from
the literal rule of interpretation.
41. The Linga principle can be
illustrated by the decision of this Court in U.P. Bhoodan Yagna Samiti
vs. Brij Kishore AIR 1988 SC 2239 where the words `landless person' were
held to mean 'landless peasant' and not landless businessmen.
42. Here we see that the Court has
departed from the literal rule of interpretation, because by the literal
rule even a very rich businessman who owns no land will be regarded as a
landless person. Since the object of the U.P. Bhoodan Act was to give
some land to the landless peasants, the expression 'landless person' was
interpreted to mean 'landless peasant' only. This interpretation was
necessary otherwise the entire object of the U.P. Bhoodan Act would be
frustrated and land donated for distribution to landless peasants could
be grabbed by rich businessmen on the ground that they owned no land,
although they may have huge amount of wealth in the form of shares in
their companies, securities, crores of rupees in banks etc..
43. We may also like to point out
that there is a difference between Linga (Lakshana) principle and the
Vakya principle. In the former no violence is done to the wording of the
text, but the words or expressions are construed differently from the
literal sense, and hence Linga is really construction by context. In
Vakya, however, some violence is done to the text, e.g. by connecting
two separate sentences, or by adding words or expressions, or by
transferring words or expressions up or down a sentence. This violence
may sometimes become necessary to save the text from becoming
meaningless or absurd, just as the surgeon may have to do violence to
the body (by operation) to save the patient's life. For this purpose the
Uha principle is utilized (The Uha principle or use of reason, is
generally applied for construction of texts). In this connection it may
be mentioned that Maxwell also permits doing violence to the statute in
exceptional situations. He says "Where the language of a statute, in its
ordinary meaning and grammatical construction leads to a manifest
contradiction of the apparent purpose of the enactment, or to some
inconvenience or absurdity, hardship or injustice, presumably not
intended, a construction may be put upon it which modifies the meaning
of the words, and even the structure of the sentence. This may be done
by departing from the rules of grammar, by giving an unusual meaning to
particular words, by altering their collocation, by rejecting them
altogether, or by interpolating other words, under the influence, no
doubt, of an irresistible conviction that the legislature could not
possibly have intended what the words signify, and that the
modifications thus made are mere corrections of careless language and
really give the true intention". Thus, in S.S. Kalra vs. Union of India
1991(2) SCC 87 this Court observed that sometimes courts can supply
words which have been accidentally omitted. (See also the rulings
mentioned in G.P. Singh's book "Principles of Statutory Interpretation"
9th Edition, 2004 pages 70 to 77).
44. The principle of Linga is
illustrated by Jaimini in numerous Sutras and Adhikarnas. Thus the
Pranabhrit Adhikarana which is based on Jaimini's Sutra 28, Chapter IV,
Book 1 shows how words acquired a wider meaning by the Linga or Lakshana
45. In the Taittiriya Samhita
(126.96.36.199) there is a passage :"He disposes the Pranabhrit - gkFR'r
46. Again in the same Samhita
(188.8.131.52) there is a similar passage :"He disposes the Ajyani -
47. Now what is the meaning of
Pranabhrit in the one case and of Ajyani in the other ? The words
Pranabhrit and Ajyani are respectively the names of two Mantras or
verses which begin with those words. These verses are used in
consecrating bricks required for a certain purpose in a yagya. From this
fact the bricks consecrated by the Pranabhrit Mantra acquired the name
of Pranabhrit. Similarly the bricks consecrated by the Ajyani Mantra
acquired the name of Ajyani. But in course of time the whole heap of
bricks of a particular kind came to be called Pranabhrit, because one or
two bricks of that heap were consecrated as Pranabhrit bricks. Thus the
instance of Pranabhrit becomes a maxim for extending the scope of a name
in the above manner. In fact, the meaning of the words Pranabhrit and
Ajyani in these cases is determined by the peculiar association of the
words and by the context of the passages in which they are used. Such a
use is called Lingasamabaya (embodiment of the Linga).
48. Nanda Pandit, in his work 'Dattaka
Mimansa', refers to the Pranabhrit maxim to show that although the word
`substitute' was at first applied in express term only to six
descriptions of sons, later the word by general use became applicable to
all the twelve descriptions.
49. The Pranabhrit maxim gkFR'r U;k;
"The peculiar feature of one leading object belonging to a class may
give name to the whole class."
50. Pranabhrit literally means
filling with life or inspiring life; but the expression forms the
commencement of a Mantra which is used in consecrating certain bricks.
Hence the word has come to mean a kind of bricks (gkFR'nkfnSCnkukaa!
LrqR;IZRoef|djFe). This is the way in which the word Ajyani also has
come to mean another class of bricks.
51. The Pranabhrit maxim applies in
the present case also because we have to fill life (i.e. given an
appropriate interpretation) to the word `subscriber' in Rule 443 of the
Indian Telegraph Rules.
52. The Pranabhrit maxim is often
used in the interpretation of a text by treating it as illustrative and
not exhaustive. The illustrative rule of interpretation is a departure
from the literal rule which normally has to be adopted while construing
a text. However, sometimes departures from the literal rule are
permissible, and one of such departures is the illustrative rule. To
give an example, in Sanskrit there is an oft-quoted statement "Kakebhyo
Dadhi Rakshitam" which means "protect the curd from the crows". Now in
this sentence the word 'crow' is merely illustrative and not exhaustive.
The statement does not mean that one should protect the curd only from
crows but allow it to be eaten up by cats, dogs or to get damaged by
dirt or filth etc. It really means that one should protect the curd from
all dangers. Hence the word 'crow' in the above statement is only
illustrative and not exhaustive.
53. We can take another example. In
the U.S. Constitution, Article 1 Section 8 states that Congress (the
American Parliament) can raise Armies and Navies. There is no mention of
an Air Force there, obviously because there were no aircraft in 1791
when the U.S. Constitution was promulgated. The first aircraft was
invented by the Wright brothers in 1903. However, today's reality is
that a modern Army cannot fight without air cover. Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution is a very ardous and lengthy procedure because it requires
two-third majority of both Houses of Congress and ratification by
three-fourth of the States. By the time this is done, the enemy may
invade and occupy the country. Hence the words `Armies and Navies' have
to be interpreted as illustrative and not exhaustive, and they really
mean all armed forces necessary for the security of the country (which
would include an Air Force, also).
54. Thus Article 1 Section 8 of the
U.S. Constitution has to be interpreted not by applying the Shruti rule
(literal rule), but by applying the Linga rule. The words 'Armies and
Navies' in Article 1 Section 8 are to be construed not literally but as
suggestive. In other words, they are only illustrative, and they really
mean all Armed Forces necessary for the security of the country.
55. We may also refer to Maxwell's
'Interpretation of Statutes' where it is stated :
"But it is another elementary rule, that a thing which is within the
letter of a statute is not within the statute unless it be also within
the real intention of the Legislature, and the words, if sufficiently
flexible, must be construed in the sense which, if less correct
grammatically, is more in harmony within that intention. Language is
rarely so free from ambiguity as to be incapable of being used in more
than one sense; and to adhere rigidly to its literal and primary meaning
in all cases would be to miss its real meaning in many. If a literal
meaning had been given to the laws which forbade a layman to "lay hands"
on a priest, and punished all who drew blood in the street, the layman
who wounded a priest with a weapon would not have fallen within the
prohibition, and the surgeon who bled a person to save his life, would
have been liable to punishment. On a literal construction of his
promise, Mohammed II.'s sawing the Venetian Governor's body in two, was
no breach of his engagement to spare his head; nor Tamerlane's burying
alive a garrison, a violation of his pledge to shed no blood."
Maxwell also states:
"The words of a statute 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. Their meaning is found not so much in a
strictly grammatical or etymological propriety of language, nor even in
its popular use, as in the subject or in the occasion on which they are
used and the object to be attained."
56. Thus, in both systems of
interpretation, the Mimansa system as well as Maxwell's system, it is
emphasized that the intention of a statute has often to be seen to
properly interpret it, and it is not that the Court can never depart
from the literal rule of interpretation. It all depends on the context,
the subject-matter, the purpose for which the provision was made, etc.
57. As already stated above, while
construing Rule 443 we have to give an interpretation which subserves
the intention of the Rule which is that telephone bills should be
promptly paid, otherwise the department will be short of the funds
needed for financing the telephone services which are to be rendered to
the consumers. After all, the salary of the employees of the telephone
department have to be paid, the telephone equipment has to be
maintained, repaired and kept up-to-date. Sometimes new technology has
to be introduced. There may be various other requirements for which
funds may be required, and all these can only be possible if the
telephone bills are paid in time. Hence, in our opinion, the word
'subscriber' in Rule 2(pp) has to be given a wider meaning, as already
58. In view of the above, we find no
merit in this appeal which is accordingly dismissed. There shall be no
order as to costs.
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