The principles of interpretation of statutes are important because an Act of Parliament/Legislature cannot foresee all types of situations and all types of consequences. It is for the Court to see whether a particular case falls within the broad principles of law enacted by the Legislature.
In spite of the fact that experts in the field assist in drafting the Acts and Rules, there are many occasions where the language used and the phrases employed in the statute are not perfect. Therefore, Judges and Courts need to interpret the words.
The principles of interpretation have been evolved in common law. It has also been the practice for the appropriate legislative body to enact Interpretation Acts or General Clauses Act.
If while interpreting a Statutory law, any doubt arises as to the meaning to be assigned to a word or a phrase or a clause used in an enactment and such word, phrase or clause is not specifically defined, it is legitimate and indeed mandatory to fall back on General Clauses Act.
Notwithstanding this, we should remember that when there is repugnancy or conflict as to the subject or context between the General Clauses Act and a statutory provision which falls for interpretation, the Court must necessarily refer to the provisions of statute.
The purpose of interpretation is essentially to know the intention of the Legislature. Whether the Legislature intended to apply the law in a given case; whether the Legislature intended to exclude operation of law in a given case; whether Legislature intended to give discretion to enforcing authority or to adjudicating agency to apply the law, are essentially questions to which answers can be sought only by knowing the intention of the legislation.
Apart from the general principles of interpretation of statutes, there are certain internal aids and external aids which are tools for interpreting the statutes.