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Loki’s Answer To A Judge’s Dilemma: Application Of The Mischief Rule By The Supreme Court

Loki’s Answer To A Judge’s Dilemma: Application Of The Mischief Rule By The Supreme Court In Kanwar Singh & Ors. V. Delhi Administration

Devesh Kapoor, Symbiosis Law School, Pune


As a process, interpretation is simply how the courts of law determine the connotation of a statute or a provision of a statute to apply it to adjudicate a particular case. 1 Salmond understood it as the process that the courts of law utilize to understand the meaning of a legislature by using authoritative forms in which it is expressed. 2

Essentially considered one of the three rules of interpretation of statutes, the other two being ‘literal rule’ and ‘golden rule’ 3, the ‘mischief rule’ focusses essentially on understanding and interpreting a statute based on the evil (mischief), that is, the problem that the statute aimed to solve. 4 It is essentially believed that the rule is considered to be corresponding to purposive construction or ‘purposivism’, as both these approaches to interpreting statutes is based on the determination of the purpose of the statute. The first case that established the mischief rule was the landmark Heydon’s Case 5. The case was regarding a copyhold tenancy given by a religious college. The college leased the same parcel, under which the copyhold was a part, to a man by the name of Heydon for 80 years. Owing to the passage of a new statute6 , while the initial grant was held protected by the statute’s exemptions, the Heydon lease became void. Lord Coke laid out that the true interpretation of all statues must be considering the status of the common law surrounding the statue before the statue itself, the mischief and defect the common law failed to address, the remedy resolved by the statute and the ultimate reason of the remedy, thus interpreting the statute in a way that would continue to handle the mischief. 7


Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research

Abbreviation: IJLLR

ISSN: 2582-8878


Accessibility: Open Access

License: Creative Commons 4.0

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​All research articles published in The Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IJLLR or its members. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IJLLR.

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