Same Words, Different Meanings

There is no doubt on the principles that, depending upon context, the same word may be used in different parts of the statute with different meanings and the same word in the context of one provision of the enactment may convey one meaning and another meaning in different context. However, it is also fundamental that, construction of a statute leading to absurdity is required to be rejected and if more than one meaning or interpretation is possible, the one which favours the objects of the statute ought to be adopted. It is also a settled principle of statutory interpretation that, the statute is required to be read as a whole and it would be rather pre-elementary to say, for understanding the meaning and connotation of a particular expression in a particular statutory provision, the provision itself is required to be read as a whole. When we look at the context for the purpose of a particular expression, which has otherwise not been defined in the statute elsewhere, a comprehension of the sentence or phrase in which the expression occurs coupled with the frame of the provision taken as a whole and, on the broad sphere, the entire statute with its objects and intents would lead to the true construction of the expression under reference; of course, while also keeping in view the other relevant principles, including the basics, natural and ordinary meaning of a word or expression is not ignored, unless there be any reason therefor.

Hon’ble Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Jaypee Kensington Boulevard Apartments Welfare Association v. NBCC (India) Ltd., [Civil Appeal No. 3395 of 2020].