A “Means and Includes” Definition IV

It will be noticed that the definition is an exhaustive one as it uses the expression “means and includes”. It is settled law that such definitions are meant to be exhaustive in nature [2014 (10) SCALE 394].

It will be noticed that the definition is a ‘means’ and ‘includes’ one. It is well settled that such definition is an exhaustive definition [2014 (13) SCALE 575].

As has been stated by us above, ‘means’ ‘and includes’ is a legislative device by which the ‘includes’ part brings by way of extension various persons, categories, or things which would not otherwise have been included in the ‘means’ part. If this is so, obviously both parts cannot be read conjunctively. What is in the ‘includes’ part is relatable only to the subject that is to be defined and takes within its sweep persons, objects, or things which are not included in the first part. Further, the word ‘and’ which joins the two parts of the definition is not rendered meaningless. It is necessary because it precedes the word ‘includes’ and brings in to the definition clause persons, objects, or things that would not otherwise be included within the ‘means’ part [(2015) 7 SCC 198].

On separate occasions, Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman had cited P. Kasilingam v. P.S.G. College of Technology, 1995 Supp (2) SCC 348 to state the proposition that a “means and includes” definition is exhaustive.

Hon’ble Justice Dinesh Maheshwari in Anuj Jain, Interim Resolution Professional, Jaypee Infratech Ltd. v. Axis Bank Ltd., [Civil Appeal Nos. 8512-8527 of 2019], on first count, fell back on P. Kasilingam too. The following was deemed important to clarify.

In Krishi Utapadan Mandi Samiti v. M/s. Shankar Industries, 1993 Suppl. (3) SCC 361 the Court proceeded to say that under the rules of interpretation, when the words “means and includes” are used in a definition, they are to be given a wider meaning and are not exhaustive or restricted to the items contained therein. This statement of law in Krishi Utapadan Mandi Samiti was held by the Three Judge Bench in Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Ltd. v. Union of India, (2019) 8 SCC 416 to be not that of good law for it ignored the earlier precedents and was also out of sync with the later decisions on the same point.

There could be several subject-matters which may not, as such, be found squarely manifested in the expressions employed in the ‘means’ part of a definition and could be reasonably found in the ‘includes’ part. However, it has not been laid down as a rule of statutory interpretation that the ‘includes’ part could stand alone, disjunct from and totally alien to the ‘means’ part.

In the case of Black Diamond Beverages v. Commercial Tax Office, Central Section, Assessment Wing, Calcutta, (1998) 1 SCC 458 while examining a definition that carried both ‘means’ and ‘includes’ expressions, this Court pointed out that the natural meaning of the ‘means’ part of the definition is not narrowed down by the ‘includes’ part.

“It is clear that the definition of ‘sale price’ in Section 2(d) uses the words ‘means’ and ‘includes’. The first part of the definition defines the meaning of the word ‘sale price’ and must, in our view, be given its ordinary, popular or natural meaning. The interpretation thereof is in no way controlled or affected by the second part which ‘includes’ certain other things in the definition. This is a well-settled principle of construction.”

Tersely put, the law remains settled that where a word is defined to ‘mean’ something, the definition is prime facie restrictive and exhaustive. On the other hand, where the word defined is declared to ‘include’ something more, the definition is prima facie extensive. However, a little difficulty arises when the definition contains both the words ‘means’ and ‘includes’.”