Etymological Excursions in Bread & Butter Statutes

Purposive interpretation in a social amelioration legislation is an imperative, irrespective of anything else. This is eloquently brought out in Atma Ram, (1988) 4 SCC 284. How labour legislations are to be interpreted has been stated and restated by this Court time and again. In Surendra Kumar, (1980) 4 SCC 443, this Court reminded, semantic luxuries are misplaced in interpretation of ‘bread and butter’ statutes. Welfare statutes must, of necessity, receive a broad interpretation. Where legislation is designed to give relief against certain kinds of mischief, Court is not to make inroads by making etymological excursions.”

Hon’ble Justice A.K. Sikri, Lanco Anpara Power Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, [Civil Appeal No. 6223 of 2016].


Union of India v. Raman Iron Foundry, (1974) 2 SCC 231 held, contractual terms cannot be interpreted in isolation following strict etymological rules or be guided by popular connotation of terms at variance with contractual context. Provash Chandra Dalui v. Biswanath Banerjee, 1989 Supp (1) SCC 487 observed, every contract is to be construed with reference to its object and whole of its terms. BESCOM v. E.S. Solar Power Pvt. Ltd., (2021) 6 SCC 718 held, in case of two possible interpretations of a contractual term, Court must accord primacy to one consistent with underlying purpose.  

 Hon’ble Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, Food Corporation of India v. Abhijit Paul, [Civil Appeal Nos. 8572-8573 of 2022] decided on 18.11.2022.