pri Interpreting Conflicting Statutes With Mimansa Interpreting Conflicting Statutes With Mimansa

The Mimansa Rules of Interpretation were our traditional principles of interpretation laid down by Jaimini, whose Sutras were explained by Shabar, Kumarila Bhatta, Prabhakar, etc. These Mimansa Principles were regularly used by our great jurists like Vijnaneshwara (author of Mitakshara), Jimutvahana (author of Dayabhaga), Nanda Pandit, etc. whenever they found any conflict between the various Smritis or any ambiguity, incongruity, or casus omissus therein.

There is no reason why we cannot use these principles on appropriate occasions. However, it is a matter of deep regret that these principles have rarely been used in our law Courts. It is nowhere mentioned in our Constitution or any other law that only Maxwell’s Principles of Interpretation can be used by the Court. We can use any system of interpretation which helps us resolve a difficulty. In certain situations Maxwell’s principles would be more appropriate, while in other situations the Mimansa principles may be more suitable.

The Mimansa principles were created for religious purpose, but as they were so rational and logical that they subsequently began to be used in law, grammar, logic, philosophy, etc. i.e. they became of universal application. The books on Mimansa are all in Sanskrit, but there is a good book in English by Prof. Kishori Lal Sarkar called ‘The Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’ published in the Tagore Law Lecture Series and K.L. Sarkar’s ‘Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’ Tagore law Lectures – 1905, Edited by Justice Markandey Katju (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India).

In the Mimansa system there are three ways of dealing with conflicts which have been fully discussed by Shabar Swami in his commentary on Sutra 14, Chapter III, Book III of Jaimini.

(1) Samanjasya Principle (Principal of Harmonious Construction)

(2) Vikalpa Principle (Principal of preferring one out of two or more)

(3) Badha Principle (Principal of barring a thing owing to inconsistency)

The Samanjasya Principle has been laid down by Jaimini in Chapter II, Sutra 9 which states “The inconsistencies asserted are not actually found. The conflicts consist in difference of application. The real intention is not affected by application. Therefore, there is consistency.”

Jimutvahana (author of Dayabhaga) one of our greatest jurist, found that there were two apparently conflicting texts of Manu and Yajnavalkya. The first stated “a son born after a division shall alone take the paternal wealth”. The second text stated “sons, with whom the father has made a partition, should give a share to the son born after the distribution”. Jimutvahana, utilizing the Samanjasya principle of Mimansa, reconciled these two texts by holding that the former applies to the case of property which is the self-acquired property of the father, and the latter applies to the property descended from the grand-father.

Vikalpa Principle of Mimansa applies in a situation of conflict where it is impossible to reconcile the two conflicting texts despite all efforts. Vikalpa principal says that whichever law is more in consonance with reason and justice should be preferred. However, conflict should not be readily assumed and every effort should be made to reconcile conflicting texts. It is only when all efforts of reconciliation fail that the Vikalpa principle is to be resorted to.

Badha Principle of Mimansa applies in a conflict where there are two conflicting irreconcilable texts but one overrides the other because of its greater force (similar to the doctrine of ultra vires). The principle of Badha is discussed by Jaimini in the tenth chapter of his work. Badha primarily means barring a thing owing to inconsistency. Jaimini uses the principle of Badha mainly with reference to cases where Angas or sub-ceremonies are to be introduced from the Prakriti Yagya (i.e. a yagya whose rules for performance are given in detail in the Brahmanas) into a Vikriti (i.e. a yagya whose rules of performance are not mentioned anywhere, or are incompletely mentioned). In such a case, though the Angas or the sub-ceremonies are to be borrowed from the Prakriti Yagya, those of the sub ceremonies which prove themselves to be inconsistent with or out of place in the Vikriti Yagya, are to be omitted.

Mimansa Case Study: Gujarat Urja Vikash Nigam Limited Vs. Essar Power Limited decide on 13.03.2008

Gujrat Urja Vikash Nigam Limited, the Appellant preferred an appeal by special leave against the judgment of Gujrat High Court, wherein the Gujrat High Court appointed an arbitrator under Section 11(5) and (6) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (“1996 Act”).

The main question before the Supreme Court was whether the application under Section 11 of the 1996 Act is maintainable in view of the statutory specific provisions contained in the Electricity Act, 2003 (“2003 Act”) providing for adjudication of disputes between the licensee and the generating companies.

While adjudicating the issue the Apex court noted that there is an apparent inconsistency between Section 175 and Section 174 of the 2003 Act. While Section 174 says that the said Act will prevail over other laws, Section 175 says that the said Act is in addition and not in derogation of any other law (which would include Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.)

The Apex Court resolved the conflict by applying the Gunapradhan Axiom of Badha Principle of Mimansa Rules. Gunapradhan Axiom consists two words i.e. “Guna” which means subordinate or accessory while “Pradhan” means Principle. The Gunapradhan Axiom states:

If a word or sentence purporting to express a subordinate idea clashes with the principal idea, the former must be adjusted to the latter or must be disregarded altogether.

According to Jaimini, acts are of two kind, principal and subordinate (see Jaimini 2 : 1 : 6).

In Sutra 3 : 3 : 9 Jaimini states:belong to two different Vedas,

When the Primary and the Accessory belong to two different Vedas, the Vedic characteristic of the Accessory is determined by the Primary, as the Accessory is subservient to the purpose of the primary.

Applying the Gunapradhan Axiom, the Apex Court interpreted that Section 174 of the 2003 Act is the pradhan whereas Section 175 of 2003 Act is guna and that Section 175 of the 2003 Act cannot be read in isolation and is to be read with Section 174 of the 2003 Act and Section 175 (the guna or subordinate) is to be adjusted in accordance with Section 174 (the pradhan or principal) and held that Section 86(1)(f) of the 2003 Act will prevail over Section 11 of the 1996 Act and whenever there is a dispute between a licensee and the generating companies only the State Commission or Central Commission (as the case may be) or arbitrator(s) nominated by them can resolve such a dispute.

Source- Gujarat Urja Vikash Nigam Ltd. Versus Essar Power Ltd [AIR 2008 SC 1921

DISCLAIMER: The Entire Contents of this document have been prepared on the basis of relevant provisions and information available at that time and prepared with due accuracy and reliability. But in no event, I will be liable for any damages caused in connection with the use of this information.

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