Rule of Harmonious Construction

Rule of Harmonious Construction

Rule of Harmonious Construction:

When there is doubt about the meaning of the words of a statute, these should be understood in the sense in which they harmonise with the subject of the enactment and the object which the legislature had 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.

Where there are in an enactment two or more provisions which cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted, wherever possible, as to give effect to all of them. This is what is known as the Rule of Harmonious Construction.

An effort should be made to interpret a statute in such a way as harmonises with the object of the statute.

Example: As per the facts given in the Raj Krishna V. Binod AIR1954 SC 202, there was a conflict between section 33(2) and 123(8) of the Representation of People Act, 1951. Section 33(2) stated that a government servant may nominate or second a candidate seeking election,

whereas section 123(8) provided that a government servant is not entitled to assist a candidate in an election in any manner except by casting his vote. SC observed that both these provision should be harmoniously interpreted and held that a government servant was entitled to nominate or second a candidate seeking election to the state legislature assembly.

This harmony could be achieved only if section 123(8) of the Act is interpreted as conferring power on a government servant of voting as well as of proposing and seconding a candidature and forbidding him from assisting a candidate in any other manner.

Example: Conflict between section 17(1) and section 18(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 applies the principal of Harmonious construction by harmonizing apparent conflict between two or more of its provisions.

Section 17 of the Act provides that (1) Every report of a Board or court together with any minute of dissent recorded therewith, every arbitration award and every award of a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal shall, within a period of thirty days from the date of its receipt by the appropriate government, be published in such manner as the appropriate government thinks fit.

Whereas sub-section (2) provides that the award published under sub-section (1) shall be final and shall not be called in question by any court in any manner whatsoever.

Section 18(1) of the Act provides that a settlement arrived at by agreement between the employer and workman otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceeding shall be binding on the parties to the agreement.

In case where a settlement is arrived after receipt of the award of the Labour Tribunal by the Government before its publication, the issue was whether the Government was still required by section 17(1) to publish the award.

On construction of these two provisions, Supreme Court held that settlement which becomes effective from the date of signing, the industrial dispute comes to an end and the award becomes ineffective and the government cannot publish it. [Sirsilk Ltd. V. Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1964 SC160]

It must always be borne in mind that a statute is passed as a whole and not in sections and it may well be assumed to be animated by one general purpose and intent.

The Court’s duty is to give effect to all the parts of a statute, if possible. But this general principle is meant to guide the courts in furthering the intent of the legislature, not overriding it.

When rigid adherence to the general rule would require disregard of clear indications to the contrary, this rule must be applied. The sections and sub-sections must be read as parts of an integral whole and being inter-dependent.

Therefore, importance should not be attached to a single clause in one section overlooking the provisions of another section. If it is impossible to avoid inconsistency, the provision which was enacted or amended later in point of time must prevail.

The Rule of Harmonious Construction is applicable only when there is a real and not merely apparent conflict between the provisions of an Act, and one of them has not been made subject to the other.

When after having construed their context the words are capable of only a single meaning, the rule of harmonious construction disappears and is replaced by the rule of literal construction.

Also Read –

What is complaint & Ingredient of complaint

Fundamental Rights


Company law important point

When Fundamental Rights can be suspended?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *