For example in various laws related purchase of machinery and consumer rights , Intelectual property / patent or in extreme cases pornography or the term "for commercial purpose" is used. has this been defined ? the laws I skimmed through haven't defined this so far. but someone said that even selling something at a low price means commercial i.e selling IP designs or code at less than you would earn or sharing freely available files for a price i.e as a bet (if you found some good files for me , I will give you X rupees) is this true ?

edit;; skimming through another law that uses this term is ironically the POCSO Act

whoever posseses or stores sexual material involving child for commercial purpose

there is also the Comepetition Act which is a market law


2 Answers 2


No. "Commercial Purposes" is not defined by statute, but it is by case law and rests on the particular circumstances in each case:

In the case of Laxmi Engineering Works vs. P.S.G Industrial Institute, the Supreme Court held that whether goods bought by a person are for a ‘commercial purpose’ is a question of fact and it should be decided by taking into account all the facts and circumstances in each case. The Supreme Court further observed that if the goods have been used by the purchaser himself for commercial use then he would be considered to be a consumer under this Act but if that person does not use the good himself and engages some other person to operate that particular good then such person will not come under the ambit of the definition of ‘consumer’.



I agree that the answer from Rick to this question is correct and on point. This answer expands somewhat on a point made in his answer at a more general level.

In India, like most common law countries, there are virtually no legal terms have "global" definitions that apply in all legal contexts.

A legal term can mean one thing in one context and statute or part of a statute, and something different in a different context or statute or part of a statute. The meaning of a legal term in a particular context has to be evaluated on a case by case basis each time that it appears.

For example, the way a term "commercial purposes" is used in a treaty governing the international sale of goods may be different from the meaning it has in an Act on usury (which might depend upon the nature of the lender), which may be different in turn from an Act on fees for vehicle registrations (which may depend upon the purposes for which the vehicle is used the majority of the time), which may be different in turn from the way that the same legal term is used in a common law legal standard related to property owner liability (which may depend upon whether the property is one upon which third-party customers or hotel guests enter onto), which in turn may be different from the meaning of the term as used in a residential lease of real property (which may treat a home office use as non-commercial but a space in which customers and employees regularly occupy as commercial).

India does not have something comparable to the "general part" of some European civil codes with definitions of legal terms that apply throughout the civil code.

The better legal dictionaries acknowledge this fact by having multiple senses of words used in legal terms, and sometimes even multiple dictionary entries for identical legal terms, to capture the multiple meanings that a legal term may have in the law.

I don't know if India has a similar service, but in the U.S., the Westlaw legal research products has a "words and phrases" product that does nothing but list every single statute and reported case opinion in which any particular term searched is defined, for someone looking for a comprehensive treatment of the issue, particularly when a legal term is used in a more obscure or less common sense.

  • Did you mean to say Westlaw instead of West line? I'm not aware of anything similar in India, presumably because the legal system is a mishmash of different cultures, religions, customs and colonial legacies. Most commentators that I am aware of tend to specialise and stay within their own demographic.
    – user35069
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 21:23
  • 1
    @Rick Westlaw typo fixed.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 3:00

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