Approaches to Statutory Interpretation

Statutory interpretation is the process of determining the meaning and purpose of a law (statute) passed by a legislative body. There are several approaches to statutory interpretation, including:

Literal approach
This approach involves interpreting the words of a statute according to their ordinary and grammatical meaning, without considering the legislative intent or purpose behind the law. This approach is also known as the "plain meaning" or "textualist" approach.

Purposive approach
This approach considers the legislative intent and purpose behind the law, and seeks to interpret the statute in a manner that furthers its overall objective. This approach is also known as the "teleological" or "contextual" approach.

Golden rule approach
This approach is a modified form of the literal approach, and involves using the literal approach unless it leads to an absurd result. In such cases, the court may depart from the literal interpretation and adopt a purposive approach.

Mischief rule approach
This approach is based on the idea that the purpose of a statute is to remedy a particular mischief or defect in the law that existed prior to the passage of the statute. The court must interpret the statute in a manner that advances this remedial purpose.

Harmonious construction approach
This approach involves interpreting a statute in a manner that is consistent with other laws and the Constitution, and avoids interpreting it in a way that leads to an absurd or unjust result.

These are the main approaches to statutory interpretation used by courts which often adopt a combination of these approaches when interpreting a statute.

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