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The Golden Rule of Interpretation

 The Golden Rule of Interpretation

Laws have their special language. The laws are enacted and drafted by the legal expert and it has its language which requires to have a little room for interpretation or construction.  

The term interpretation is derived from the Latin term interpretari, which means to explain, expound, understand, or to translate, basically interpretation is a process of explaining, expounding, and translating any text or anything in written form.  Interpretation of statutes helps to determine the understanding of the law. This process is very important for every lawyer as it helps to determine the exact intention of the legislature.

There are various rules related to the interpretation of the statute, this paper focuses upon the golden rule of interpretation.

The golden rule is a modification to the literal rule of interpretation. This rule is called the golden rule as it solves all the problems of interpretation. This rule solves the problem of ambiguity, injustice, inconvenience, hardship, inequality which arises through the literal understanding of the law. In such a case, the literal meaning should be discarded and interpretation shall be done in such a manner that the purpose of the legislation is fulfilled.

The golden rule modifies the language as well as the grammar of the words used in the statutes and other documents of interpretation thus providing the actual meaning of the words. This rule can only be interpreted when there is no correct grammatical construction possible. The judges of the court must be aware of the consequence of interpreting the statute using the golden rule, it should be used when it is necessary.

There are two ways to know that the golden rule is applied,

  1. Narrow approach; this approach is used, when the word used in the statute is ambiguous which means it has more than one meaning.

  2. Wide approach: this approach is used when there is just one liberal meaning of a word. In this case, the court can modify the meaning of the word to avoid absurdity.

Case; New Indian Sugar Mills ltd v. Commissioner of Income Tax, Bihar in this case apex court held that if the two constructions of the same enactment exist as well as the court will adopt the one that advances remedy and suppresses any mischief. The court also stated that if the rule is interpreted it can create a problem as the words can have different meanings when there are different circumstances. This can result in ambiguity or having multiple meanings of a single word. In this such case, the statute becomes questionable .thus these situations call for the application of the golden rule of interpretation.

Case; R v. Allen, in this case, the defendant was charged with bigamy. According to section 57 of the offenses against the person act 1861, the literal rule of bigamy stated that it can't be possible to recognize second marriage in this case the golden rule was applied to decide whether the word marry should be seen as to undergo ceremony and therefore the conviction was upheld. 


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