2. Principles to be followed-
Suppress the mischief & advance the remedy
No retrospective operation
Where strict construction is not applicable
Significance of mens rea
3. STRICT INTERPRETATION
Unless the words of the statute clearly made and act criminal, it shall not be
construed as criminal. The court must inflict punishment only when the act clearly
comes under the letters of law. The penal provision must be strictly construed in the
first place. Secondly, there is no vicarious liability in criminal law unless the statute
takes that also within its fold.
Sham Sundar & Ors vs State Of Haryana (1989 SC)
Chief Inspector of Mines v. Lala Karam Chand Thapar ( SC 1961)
M/S Virtual Soft Systems Ltd vs Commissioner Of Income Tax (2007 SC)
W. H. King v. Republic of India ( 1952 SC)
4. Suppress the mischief and advance the
It is the duty of the court to place a broad and liberal construction on the
provision in furtherance of the object and purpose of the legislation which would
suppress the mischief and advance the remedy."
Lalita Jalan And Anr vs Bombay Gas Co. Ltd. And Ors ( 2003 SC)
5. No retrospective operation
A penal provison couldn't be given retrospective effect since it would lead to penal consequences
against the importers. It was further held that the consequences of this interpretation would lead to
certain penal liabilities in regard to payment of penalty etc., and therefore an entry prescribing the
limit of the width has to be read retrospectively.
Collector Of Customs, Bombay vs East Punjab Traders And Ors. ( 1996 SC)
6. Beneficial Construction
When there are two possible construction , the court must lean towards that construction which
exempts the subject from penalty, rather than one which imposes penalty.
Where an ambiguity exists and it has not been possible for the legislature to express itself clearly,
the court exhibits a preference for the liberty of the subject and resolves the doubt in favour of a
subject. The court is not competent to stretch the meaning of an expression and include the
situation which would not have been come under the reasonable interpretation of the provision.
State of West Bengal v. Swapan Kumar Guha ( 1982 SC)
Tolaram Relumal And Another vs The State Of Bombay 1954 SC)
7. Where strict construction is not
ASHOK KUMAR v. STATE OF HARYANA (2010 SC) - Court said that We have already
referred to the provisions of Section 304-B of the Code and the most significant expression used in
the Section is `soon before her death'. In our view, the expressions `soon before her death' cannot be
given a restricted or a narrower meaning. They must be understood in their plain language and with
reference to their meaning in common parlance. These are the provisions relating to human
behavior and, therefore, cannot be given such a narrower meaning, which would
defeat the very purpose of the provisions of the Act. Of course, these are penal provisions
and must receive strict construction. But, even the rule of strict construction requires that the
provisions have to be read in conjunction with other relevant provisions and scheme of the Act.
Further, the interpretation given should be one which would avoid absurd results on the one hand
and would further the object and cause of the law so enacted on the other.
8. Significance of mens rea
Where offences under the Act are really acts prohibited by the powers of the state in the interest of
public health and well being and prohibition is backed by the sanction of a penalty, the offences are
strictly statutory offences and intention or mental state is irrelevant, such acts prescribes a strict
Dinesh Chandra J.Gandhi v. State of Gujarat (1989 SC)