I want know if the law is just the clauses and sections of the constitution or does it also expand to the statement of objectives of a bill as well. I am asking this with regard to the recent unrest caused after the introduction of Citizenship Amendment Bill of India which has now turned into an Act. The government has said that this bill is supposed to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been persecuted and belong to certain minority communities of their original country. But the act never uses the word "persecuted" or anything related to persecution is mentioned. However, persecution is mentioned in the statement of objectives of bill as it was introduced in the parliament. So if for example an illegal citizen is to be granted citizenship as per this Act would they be required to prove their persecution as it was mentioned in the statement of objectives.

1 Answer 1


No, but ...

Courts have to interpret the statute and they do so according to a number of paradigms:

  • The literal rule: the words of the statute should be read literally even if this leads to a contradiction or injustice.
  • The mischief rule: the statute should be read so that it addresses the mischief that the legislature was trying to deal with. This would allow consideration of extraneous information like the statement of objectives, reading speeches, committee reports, and even government press releases.
  • The Golden rule: Use the literal rule. If that leads to nonsense, use the mischief rule.
  • Harmonious construction: assume the legislature is not capricious or schizophrenic - if two laws seem to say opposite things, try to find a reading that can make them compatible.

Indian courts use all of these.

  • In particular, a statement of objectives in a state or accompanying it in its legislative history will normally be considered an authoritative statement of the purpose of the law for purposes of interpreting it, if it is ambiguous in any fashion.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 20:28

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