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Part-102-One Pager Snapshot to the Cases on use of Scope of Definition Clause in a Statute and Meaning of a word

-Use of Definition Clause
-Definitions in statutes when beginning with, “unless there is anything repugnant in subject”
-Meaning of the Word not defined in the Statue
-Perils of Importing definition from other statute
-Perils of Dictionary Meaning
-Definition of word from other statue no to be imported if not pari materia






Use of Definition

Laloochand P.Ltd
vs Panchali CoOp.Hng.Sty.Ltd on
31 August, 2010

“Justice G.P. Singh in the `Principles of Statutory Interpretation' (12th edition, 2010) says that the object of a definition of a term is to avoid the
necessity of frequent repetitions in describing all the subject matter to which that word or expression so defined is intended to apply. In other
words, the definition clause is inserted for the purpose of defining particular subject-matter dealt with and it helps in revealing the legislative meaning.
However, the definitive clause may itself require interpretation because of ambiguity or lack of clarity in its language. In the `Construction of Statutes' by
Earl T. Crawford (1989 reprint) at page 362, the following statement is made: ".......the interpretation clause will control in the absence of anything else in
the act opposing the interpretation fixed by the clause. Nor should the interpretation clause be given any wider meaning than is absolutely necessary. In
other words, it should be subjected to a strict construction."


Definitions in
statutes when
begining with,
“unless there is
repugnant in

Laloochand P.Ltd
vs Panchali CoOp.Hng.Sty.Ltd on
31 August, 2010

But s. 2 begins with the words " in this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context " and then come the various definition
clauses of which (9) is one. It is well settled that all statutory definitions or abbreviations must be read subject to the qualification variously
expressed in the definition clauses which created them and it may be that even where the definition is exhaustive inasmuch as the word defined
is said to mean a certain thing, it is possible for the word to have a somewhat different meaning in different sections of the Act depending upon
the subject or the context. That is why all definitions in statutes generally begin with the qualifying words similar to the words used in the present case,
namely, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context.


Meaning of the
Word not defined
in the Statue

Maheshwari Fish
Seed Farm vs T.
Nadu Electricity
Board And Anr on
16 April, 2004 (SC)

It is settled rule of interpretation that the words not defined in a statute are to be understood in their natural, ordinary or popular sense. According
to Justice Frankfurter, "After all, legislation, when not expressed in technical terms, is addressed to common run of men, and is, therefore, to be understood
according to sense of the thing, as the ordinary man has a right to rely on ordinary words addressed." (Wilma E. Addison v. Holly Hill Fruit Products, 322
US 607, at p.618). In determining, therefore, whether a particular import is included within the ordinary meaning of a given word, one may have regard to
the answer which everyone conversant with the word and the subject-matter of statute and to whom the legislation is addressed, will give if the problem
were put to him. (Principles of Statutory Interpretation by Justice G.P. Singh, Ninth Edition, 2004, p.95


Perils of
definition from

Maheshwari Fish
Seed Farm vs T.
Nadu Electricity
Board And Anr on
16 April, 2004 (SC)

Suffice it to observe that the common parlance meaning of the term 'agriculture', in the context in which it has been used and is arising for
determination before us, cannot be determined by reference to definition given in other statutes. This we say for more reasons than one. Firstly,
none of the statutes reffered to by Shri Iyer, the learned senior counsel, can be called statutes in pari materia. Secondly, it is common knowledge that the
definition coined by the Legislature for the purpose of a particular enactment is often an extended or artificial meaning so assigned as to fulfill the object of
that enactment. Such definitions given in other enactments cannot be freely used for finding out meaning to be assigned to a term of common parlance
used in an altogether different setting. And lastly, as Justice G.P. Singh points out in "Principles of Statutory Interpretation" (Ninth Edition, 2004,
at page 163) " is hazardous to interpret a statute in accordance with a definition in another statute and more so when such statute is not
dealing with any cognate subject or the statutes are not in pari materia." The same view has been taken in the decision of this court in CIT, W.B.
v. Benoy Kumar (supra) which we have extensively referred to earlier in this judgment


Perils of

CGT vs. Getti
Chettiar [1971] 82
ITR 599(SC)

A reading of this section clearly goes to show that the words "disposition", "conveyance", "assignment", "settlement", "delivery" and "payment" are used
as some of the modes of transfer of property. The dictionary gives various meanings for those words but those meanings do not help us. We have
to understand the meaning of those words in the context in which they are used. Words in a section of a statute are not to be interpreted by
having those words in one hand and the dictionary in the other. In spelling out the meaning of the words in a section, one must take into
consideration the setting in which those terms are used and the purpose that they are intended to serve


Definition of word
from other statue
no to be imported
if not pari materia

Sri Jagatram Ahuja
vs The
Commissioner Of
Gift Tax on 17
October, 2000 (SC)

We may state here itself that the words and expressions defined in one statute as judicially interpreted do not afford a guide to construction of
the same words or expressions in another statute unless both the statutes are para-materia legislations or it is specifically so provided in one
statute to give the same meaning to the words as defined in other statute. The aim and object of the two legislations, namely, the Gift-tax Act and the
Estate Duty Act are not similar