Discuss in brief the primary rule of literal construction In the Interpretation of a statute. [Dec 2013 (6 Marks)]
- In construing statutes the cardinal rule is to construe its provisions literally and grammatically giving the words their ordinary and natural meaning. This rule is also known as the plain meaning rule.
- According to the primary rule, the words, phrases, and sentences of a statute are to be understood in their natural, ordinary, or popular and grammatical meaning, unless such a construction leads to an absurdity or the statute suggests a different meaning.
- The words ‘natural’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘popular’ are used interchangeably. They mean the grammatical or literal meaning, except when there are technical words.
Some of the other basic principles of literal construction are:
- Every word in the law should be given meaning as no word is unnecessarily used.
- One should not presume any omissions and if a word is not there in the Statute, it shall not be given any meaning.
The first and most elementary rule of constructions is that the words and phrases of technical legislation are used in their technical meaning if they have acquired one, and otherwise in their ordinary meaning, and the second is that the phrases and sentences are to be construed according to the grammar rule.
If there is nothing to modify, alter or qualify the language which the statute contains, it must be construed in the ordinary and natural meaning of the words and sentences. Nothing is to be added to or taken from a statute unless there are adequate grounds to justify the interference.