Perplexity of the statutes of interpretation

Perplexity of interpreting the statutes of Surya Sunilkumar student at the Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies

Amar Chandra Chakraborty versus Collector of Excise Duty (1972)


This case marks a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India. This was an important case in relation to the subject matter of the interpretation of the Articles of Association. The principle of ejusdem generis was established by the court and the applicability of this principle was also stated. The word “ejusdem generis” denotes a principle for the interpretation of legal texts which assumes that the general term, when a general term is added to a list of specific terms, is restricted to things that have the same character as the specific terms . With the help of this case, the court laid down some basic rules for the application of this rule.

Facts of the case

The plaintiff in the petition had obtained a license under the Tripura Excise Rule of 1962 while working as an excise wholesaler in country liquor. There was an agreement between the plaintiff and the Tripura government, after which he was appointed the warehouse contractor for delivery and corrected spirit for the Tripura government for a period of 5 years. He fulfilled all the necessary conditions of the license as well as the agreement made between the parties. Before the license granted expired, the excise collector (respondent) wrongly withdrew the license granted to the plaintiff, as new provisions were added to the 1962 Tripura excise rules. The respondent alleged that the plaintiff would have to pay the government if the plaintiff tried to secure the deposit he originally made as a condition of the agreement.


The plaintiff had filed the petition against the Justice Commissioner’s decision, who stated:
• The excise officer who issued the license had full authority to revoke the license in accordance with the interpretation of Sections 42 and 43 of the Act.
• It was stipulated that the principle of ejusdem generis will be applied if…. (1) the statute contains a list of certain words; (2) the subjects in the list form a class or category; (3) that class or category is not exhausted by the enumeration; (4) The general term follows the list and (5) there is none
Reference to another legislative intention … .. “
• It was also noted that trade and industry belong to a special category and therefore cannot be taken into account under Article 14 on freedom of trade and industry.
These observations were deemed to be consistent with the facts made during the trial before the Apex Court. In its judgment, the Supreme Court found that the applicant had no leeway to contest the judicial commissioner’s decision under Article 4. 136. The General Court accepted the JC’s observation, and the appeal was therefore rejected.

Case analysis

• This particular case gave a clear interpretation of the rule of ejusdem generis. In the above case, the applicant challenged the excise commissioner’s power to revoke the license. The plaintiff alleged that the interpretation of “any reason other than” in Section 43 was arbitrary which called the expression into question.
• It should be noted that the rule of interpretation states that the meaning of a particular section or provision should be understood taking into account the intent of the legislature.
• The numerous clauses in Section 42 cannot simply be construed as constituting a class or group.
• The order passed by the Hon’ble Court states that the liquor business, which is regulated under special legal provisions and excise tax privileges, cannot be taken into account under Art adequate classification does not fall under the prohibition. Thus, the excise authority has adequate power to take a decision on this matter.


The interpretation of statutes is important as it removes the ambiguity in the interpretation of the meaning that gives the subject matter of the law passed by the government. It is the lawful duty of the court to interpret and understand the purpose of the provisions and the words in the provision in order to convey justice and fairness to the public. This case gave a clear understanding of the applicability of an important principle.

Comments are closed.