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Interpretation is the main role of the judiciary, in understanding the meaning of the statutes for delivering fair justice. Some general rules are followed for interpretation. The following are some of


Interpretation is the main role of the judiciary, in understanding the meaning of the statutes for delivering fair justice. Some general rules are followed for interpretation. The following are some of the notable welfare laws according to the Indian Constitution in which beneficial interpretation has been applied.


The legal maxim “Salus populi suprema lex” means that the welfare of the people is supreme. This acts as a background for enacting beneficial legislation which is exclusively for the welfare of the people. To provide fair justice strict interpretation is replaced with liberal interpretation, for the welfare of the people. Directive Principles of State Policy, Part IV of the Indian Constitution is included in the objective to create a welfare state. In formulating the laws or policies the directive principles of state policy provide some of the guidelines which is to be considered while enacting laws. It has been included to establish social and economic democracy in the state. The following are some of the welfare laws enacted for women and children: The Maternity Benefit Act, of 1961 was enacted to regulate women’s employment concerned with the period before and after the birth of the child, to provide maternity and other benefits. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 was enacted for the welfare of children to prohibit and regulate the employment of children in the hazardous work environment for the age group of children who are less than 14 years of age. The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act, 2015 was enacted to provide care and protection for the welfare of the child who was held liable for the offences done by him. This Act aims to provide treatment, reformative measures, rehabilitative processes, and disposal of matters for the benefit of the children, establishing bodies and institutions for the welfare of the juveniles.


Generally, in interpreting the statutes strict and liberal interpretation has been followed. In interpreting the welfare laws the liberal interpretation is followed in which the interpretation is wider in meaning and the rule of beneficial interpretation is applied. So interpreting the beneficial legislation there should not be any narrow interpretation it must be wider in the sense of benefiting the individuals. The Indian Constitution protects in respect of conviction for offenses, especially when it comes to ex-post-facto laws, in which the penalties are imposed retrospectively, so it prohibits the legislature to make criminal laws retrospectively when the ex post facto law is beneficial to the accused then it is not prohibited by this provision, so the accused can be benefitted by this beneficial provision. So here, the rule of beneficial interpretation is applicable when the ex-post-law could be applied to reduce the punishment. This was interpreted in the case of Rattan Lal vs the State of Punjab[1], where a boy of 16 years was convicted of 6 months of rigorous imprisonment and fine, after the judgment,  the enforcement of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 provided that the person below the 21 years should not ordinarily be sentenced to imprisonment. So the Supreme court held that the rule of beneficial interpretation can be applied to reduce the punishment. This is based on the welfare of the offenders.[2]


The mischief rule of interpretation is considered to be one of the rules for interpreting statutes. It originated in Heydon’s case and formulated the following rules. Four things are to be considered in the true interpretation of all the statutes in general which may be penal, beneficial, restrictive, or enlarging. The first is to know the common law before making the Act. The second is to know what mischief and defect in the common law did not provide. Third, to know the remedy the parliament had resolved and appointed for curing the disease of the commonwealth. Fourth, to understand the true reason for the remedy. And to make the construction that suppresses the mischief and advances the remedy by the office of the judges. This mischief rule can change the interpretation, into a beneficial interpretation in delivering justice. In Regional Provident Fund Commissioner vs Shree Krishna Metal Manufacturing Company, the factory of the respondent was asked to comply with the provisions of the Employee’s Provident Fund Act, 1952. But the respondent contented that this Act applied to only industries and not factories where at least fifty members are working so he had less than fifty employees working in his factory and stated that the factory need not comply with the provisions of this Act. The Supreme Court on rejecting the argument stating that the respondent is bound by the terms of the Act by pointing out that the expression qualifies the word factory and not industry. So if the respondent’s contention was accepted then the aim of the statute and the mischief that was sought to be remedied would be defeated[3]. This rule is also known as the purposive construction rule. It is to be noted that, even though the mischief rule is useful it has some disadvantages, it is considered to be old since it was introduced when common law was followed.


In B Shah vs Presiding Officer, Labour Court[4], with regard to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 the court on applying the beneficial rule according to Section 5 of this Act which states about the employer is liable for paying the maternity benefit to the Woman employee by calculating the daily wage of the average rate in the period of her actual absence and following it immediately including the delivery day and also for the following days until six weeks. The Court also held that it must also include Sundays, this was interpreted according to Article 42 of the Indian Constitution which is considered to be one of the principles in the Directive Principles of State Policy which is based on making provisions for the conditions of work to be just and humane by including the maternity relief. So this can be stated as a beneficial interpretation for the welfare of working women, which the court interprets in a wider sense by ordering the payment of the average wages including Sunday. In Pratap Singh vs State of Jharkhand[5], the court interpreted the object of the Juvenile Justice Act which has the main object of providing protection, treatment, and care, providing rehabilitation and development for the juveniles. This Act was remedial and beneficial that provides benefits to the juveniles.


In conclusion, the interpretation of statutes plays an important role in delivering justice, especially by the judiciary. And the directive principles of state policy provide guidelines in order to enact welfare laws, so for welfare laws, the beneficial interpretation is administered. But in offering the beneficial interpretation it is significant to note that only the proper evidence or proof must be considered in administering justice. Thus, the welfare law must be interpreted carefully and it shouldn’t be blindly interpreted for the reason that it is a welfare law. So in order to administer justice the judges must carefully interpret and deliver judgment based on the principle of justice, equity, and good conscience.

Author(s) Name: Shahana.P (Government Law College, Coimbatore)


[1] Rattan Lal v. State of Punjab, 1965 AIR 444

[2] Dr.J.N Pandey Constitutional Law Of India (58th edition, Central Law Agency, 2021)

[3] Prof.T. Bhattacharyya The Interpretation of Statutes (11th edition, Central Law Agency , 2020)

[4] B Shah v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court 1978 AIR 12

[5] Pratap Singh vs State of Jharkhand (2005) 3 SCC. 551