Part-86-One Pager Snapshot to the Cases on “Rule of Last Antecedent”

Lets have interesting read of this principle..

Interpretation of Article 47 of Constitution of India-“intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health”…

Whether condition of “injurious to health” attached to both intoxicating drinks and drugs or only drugs..

Snapshot presents you with a brief gist of cases on this Principle..





Blacklaw Dictionary

This is an interpretative principle by which a court determines that qualifying words or phrases modify the words or phrases immediately preceding them and not words or phrases
more remote, unless the extension is necessary from the context or the spirit of the entire writing. The lexicon exemplifies the canon: in the phrase 'Texas courts, New
Mexico courts, and New York courts in the federal system,' the words 'in the federal system' might be held to modify only New York courts and not Texas courts or
New Mexico courts. This canon is variably termed 'the doctrine of the last antecedent'; 'the doctrine of the last preceding antecedent.'


ACTO v. Hemant
Plastic Udyog [2014]
47 66

Provision Interpreted- 39. Plastic goods, PVC granules except when used as raw material for production of plastic goods.
Held-Entry 39 aforesaid carries a coma after the words "plastic goods", is then followed by the words "PVC granules". The subsequent words in the entry 39 "except when
used as raw material for production of plastic goods" immediately following the words PVC granules would in my considered opinion only relate to PVC granules
used as raw material for production of plastic goods. To my mind, the "rule of last antecedent" applies to the interpretation of entry 39 of notification dated 30.03.2000.


M.S. Anoop v/s State
of Kerala WP(C) No.
33709 of 2015 (Ker)

Provision Interpreted-Article 47 of Constitution of India- “the State will endeavour to prohibit the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks
and of drugs which are injurious to health”.
Held- Of the two evils, intoxicating drinks, as a whole, face the axe, while only those drugs harmful to health get outlawed, for ‘drugs’ is employed generically and followed
asyndetically with the relative qualifier ‘harmful to health.’ The Constitution, therefore, presumes that any drink intoxicating is harmful. In other words, ‘intoxicating drinks’
does not get qualified by ‘harmful to health.’ The canon of construction, we suppose, applicable is that of the last antecedent.


Classic Builders And
Developers vs Union
Of India And Ors.
(MP) 2001 251 ITR
492 MP

Provision Interpreted-Section 131(1A) of Income Tax Act-If the Director-General or Director or Joint Director or Assistant Director or Deputy Director, or the
authorised officer referred to in sub-section (1) of Section 132 before he takes action under Clauses (i) to (v) of that sub-section..
Held- It is this rule, which was being consistently applied by the Privy Council and the Supreme Court while interpreting several words used in the sections of different Acts. If
the aforesaid rule is applied for interpreting Sub-section (1A) of Section 131 and particularly to the words mentioned supra then, in my opinion, the words "referred
to in Sub-section (1) of Section 132 before he takes action under Clauses (i) to (v) of that sub-section" do not qualify the words--Director-General, Director, Joint
Director, Assistant Director, Deputy Director but only qualify the words "the authorised officer" which precede them. In other words, these words are meant only for the
last and sixth specified authority, namely, "authorised officer", and not other five authorities named therein


Mongibai Hariram vs
State Of Maharashtra
(SC)1966 AIR 882

Provision Interpreted- "Premises" in the Bombay Land Requisition Act, 1948-“any building or part of a building let or intended to be let separately”
Held- The question was interpreting words, "any building or part of a building let or intended to be let separately". Relying upon the principle and the rule of last antecedent,
their Lordships held that the words "let or intended to be let separately" did not qualify the word "building" but only qualified the words "part of a building"


Irrawaddy Flotilla
Company v.
Bugwandas [1891]
ILR 18Cal620 (PC)

Provision Interpreted-Section 1 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872- "nothing herein contained shall affect the provisions of any statute, Act or Regulation not hereby
expressly repealed, nor any usage or custom of trade, nor any incident of any contract, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act"
Held-The words "not inconsistnet with the provisions of this Act", are not to be connected with the clause "nor any usage or custom of trade" and if such a sentence
is to be tried by any rules of grammar, seems to require that the application of those words should be confined to the subject which immediately precedes them.


Govindrao and
Vs Bhavarlal and
Others (MP) (1992)
11 MP CK 0047

Provision Interpreted-M.P. Accommodation Control Act, 1961-(e) "member of family" in case of any person means the spouse, son, unmarried daughter, father,
grandfather, mother, grandmother, brother, unmarried sister, paternal uncle, paternal uncle''s wife, or widow or brother''s son or unmarried daughter living joinlty
with, or any other relation dependent on him.
Held-As such, if we read the relations named in the definition minutely, we find, that in the first category the persons who are naturally supposed to live together in one family
have been put in a separate class because after the words paternal uncle''s wife or widow a comma has been put and thereafter the word ''or'' is used and then brother''s son or
unmarried daughter have been named with a condition that they were living jointly with the landlord, and thereafter again the word "or" is used and the words any other relations
dependant to him have been inserted. As such in the aforesaid context the conjunction "or" is used in the aforesaid definition at two places is manifestly disjunctive
and, therefore, if the rule of Last Antecedent is made applicable, we find that the qualifying term "living jointly" shall be applicable only in the case of brother''s son
or unmarried daughter and the term "dependent on him" shall be applicable in the case of only any other relations


Mahadeolal Kanodia
vs The AdministratorGeneral (SC)
1960 AIR 936

Provision Interpreted-Provided that the provisions of the Calcutta Thika Tenancy Act, 1949, as amended by this Act, shall, subject to the provisions of s. 9, also
apply and be deemed to have always applied to all suits, appeals and proceedings pending..
Appellant argued that the phrase " as amended by this Act " qualifies the word " provisions ". The Court observed that if this be correct, the meaning of the proviso will be that
only those provisions of the Act which have been amended by the Act shall apply and be deemed to have applied always to pending proceedings, but it was held that If ordinary
grammatical rules are applied there is no escape from the conclusion that the "as amended by this Act " qualifies proximate substantive, viz., Calcutta, Thika
Tenancy Act, 1949