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The General Clauses Act, 1897
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CONTENTS I Chapter 1 Preliminary ....... l Chapter 2 Statutory Interpretation , ...... . 9 Chapter 3 Definitions ....... . 14 Chapter 4 Commencement ....... . 30 Chapter 5 Part of Statutes .....,. . 36 Chapter 6 Repeal and Amendment ....... . 41 K Chapter 7 Temporary Acts ....... . 48 ` " Chapter 8 Other General Rules of Construction ....... . 55 C t Chapter 9 Corporations ....... . 62 { V Chapter l0 Provisions concerning the Government ....... . 64 Chapter ll Powers and Functionaries ....... . 69 Chapter 12 Statutory Instruments . . . . . . 72 Chapter 13 Severability ....... . 84 Chapter 14 Offences under Several Enactments ....... 88 Chapter 15 Miscellaneous ....... . 96 Appendix Proposals as shown in the form of draft amendments to the existing Act . . 100 4*

expression in such language. Its importance is evident from what Bentham saidlz "The language of error is always obscure and indefinite. An abundance of words ‘ serves to cover a paucity and a falsity of ideas. The oftner terms are changed, the easier it is to delude the reader. The language of truth is uniform and simple. The same ideas are always expressed by the same terms." But for the control exercised by the General Clauses Act over statutory language, it would have been a "frec for all" affair so far as the use, meaning and interpretation of words and language in our statute law are concerned. g?§°;{f;:°° 1.6. It is desirable, in this context, to emphasise the importance of statute law today. It ' law today. was towards the end of the last century, that the present General Clauses Act was enacted; · statute law did not then possess, in its volume and range, the importance

which it now possesses, though, of course, much of the lawyer’s law had been codified in India by that time. Since 1897, the number of statutes and statutory instruments has multiplied every year. As the position stood towards the end of 1971, there were about 700 Central Acts of permanent _ duration, and the number of statutory instruments issued under these Acts would run literally into thousands. Litigation involving questions of statutory construction, constitute now the bulk of the total litigation in India. It is, therefore, obvious that an enactment which is intended to deal with the process of interpretation of statutes, is now of much greater importance than it could have been in the last century. Legislation 1:7- Pound has called attention to the fact that legislation is the principal characteristic gzlpgffg, and means of growth in mature legal systems? As has been observeda National development, ¤f swwih- as we understand it in the world today, involves a vast amount of governmental planning "and programming, not only to expedite the process of development, but to direct their course along desired lines. A great volume of legislative enactments is required to validate plans and programmes and the actions necessary

occupation with urgent . work, the matter remained undisposed of when the term of the Commission came to a close. 1.21. We have carefully considered the matter in all its aspects, and are inclined to take One Act i the view that the simultaneous existance of two interpretation Acts is likely to create unnecessary ¥"°f°”°d· complications. Citizens as well as lawyers will be required to make themselves familiar with both the Acts, for a considerable time to come, because it is unlikely that all the existing Central Acts will be removed from the Statute Book within a reasonably foreseeable future. Diversity of judi- cial interpretation in respect of two sets of identical provisions may also create problems, and i. See para 1.33,infra also. ”. Para 12.22 to 12.26, infra. °. Para 6.21 A and 6.22, infra. 4. Article 367 of the Constitution, para 1.27, infra. · 5. Para 1.2, supra. · AJ