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Lacuna Left By Legislature Cannot Be Filled By Judicial Interpretation: SC [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
7 Nov 2019 3:43 PM GMT
Lacuna Left By Legislature Cannot Be Filled By Judicial Interpretation: SC [Read Judgment]
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"It is not for the Courts to remedy the defect in the Statute."

The Supreme Court has observed that if the legislature has left a lacuna, it is not open for the Courts to fill it on some presumed intention of the legislature. The bench comprising Justice L Nageswara and Justice Hemant Gupta was considering an appeal against Armed Forces Tribunal's interpretation of a regulation in Navy (Pension) Regulations, 1964. The bench observed that the reading...

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The Supreme Court has observed that if the legislature has left a lacuna, it is not open for the Courts to fill it on some presumed intention of the legislature.

The bench comprising Justice L Nageswara and Justice Hemant Gupta was considering an appeal against Armed Forces Tribunal's interpretation of a regulation in Navy (Pension) Regulations, 1964. The bench observed that the reading of the Regulations does not lead to an inference that the service element should be limited to an individual who has completed minimum 15 years of engagement.

In this case [Union of India vs. VR Nanukuttan Nair], the Tribunal had held that since applicant has been invalided from service on account of disability, therefore, he is entitled to full disability pension including the service element. 

Referring to a 1953 judgment of the Supreme Court in Nalinakhya Bysack v. Shyam Sunder Halda, the bench observed:

By judicial interpretation, words cannot be added to a statute, which would include the Rules, Regulations and Instructions issued under a Statute, as an excuse to give effect to its plain meaning of the language of the regulations. If the legislature has left a lacuna, it is not open to the Court to fill it on some presumed intention of the legislature. But where the Courts find that the words appear to have been accidentally omitted, or if adopting a construction deprives certain existing words of all meaning, it is permissible to supply additional words but should not easily read words which have not been expressly enacted. The Court should construct the provisions harmoniously having regard to the context and the object of the statute in which a provision appears, to make it meaningful. An attempt must always be made so to reconcile the relevant provisions, so as to advance the remedy intended by the statute. Thus, it is not possible to read completion of qualifying service in Regulation 105B of the Regulations.

Upholding the Tribunal order, the bench further said:

The interpretation as argued by the learned ASG leads to addition of words in Regulation 105B which is not permissible as the Regulations have to be interpreted harmoniously and not by adding words to the Regulations. A person who has completed the period of engagement is entitled to disability element apart from service pension. The expression 'service pension' admissible is not restricted to the qualifying service provided under Regulation 78. It is not for the Courts to remedy the defect in the Statute.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment


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