Cadaveric Consequences in Interpretation

See, Bennion on Statutory Interpretation, 5th Edition.

The concept of ‘absurdity’ in the context of interpretation of statutes is construed to include any result which is unworkable, impracticable, illogical, futile or pointless, artificial, or productive of a disproportionate counter mischief. Logic referred to herein is not formal or syllogistic logic, but acceptance that enacted law would not set a standard which is palpably unjust, unfair, unreasonable or does not make any sense. When an interpretation is beset with practical difficulties, the Courts have not shied from turning sides to accept an interpretation that offers a pragmatic solution that will serve the needs of society. Therefore, when there is choice between two interpretations, we would avoid a ‘construction’ which would reduce the legislation to futility, and should rather accept the ‘construction’ based on the view that draftsmen would legislate only for the purpose of bringing about an effective result. We must strive as far as possible to give meaningful life to enactment or rule and avoid cadaveric consequences. We would neither hesitate in stating the obvious, that modern regulatory enactments bear heavily on commercial matters and, therefore, must be precisely and clearly legislated as to avoid inconvenience, friction and confusion, which may, in addition, have adverse economic consequences.

Hon’ble Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Franklin Templeton Trustee Services Private Limited v. Amruta Garg, [Civil Appeal Nos. 498-501 of 2021].