“Principles of interpretation of statute, it is trite, are not straight-jacketed, and are fundamentally fluid in nature, requiring to be moulded in view of the statutory provision being subjected to interpretation.”

Delhi High Court: The Bench comprising of ACJ Gita Mittal and C. Hari Shankar, J. allowed a petition concerning the removal of Respondent 4 from the Board of Governors of the School of Planning & Architecture.

In the present case, it has been stated that the petitioner was an architect, impugned the inclusion of Respondent 4 in the Board of Governors of Respondent 3- School of Planning & Architecture.

Section 12 of School of Planning & Architecture Act, 2014 provides that the authorities, of Delhi Schools covered by the Act, shall include a Board of Governors and a Senate. The Board of Governors of any school is, by virtue of sub-section (i) of Section 13 of the Act, the principal executive body of the particular school in question. Respondent 4 was nominated as a Member of the Board under clause (d) Section 13 (2) of the Act, as a “representative from the council of architecture to be nominated by the president of the council of architecture.”

Petitioner’s case is that the respondent 4 does not qualify as a “representative from the council of architecture as he was not one of the member of the council, within the meaning of Section 3 of the Act. Respondent’s contended that the “representative” referred to in clause (d) of Section 13 (2) need not necessarily be a Member of the Council of Architecture.

Therefore, on considering the submissions of the parties, the Court opened its conclusion by stating that the controversy involved does not admit any complexity. Further, while laying down the decision, according to the bench, reading clauses of Section 13(2) of the Act revealed that the words “from” and “of” have selectively and, apparently, deliberately-been used in different clauses thereof.

“Where different words are used by the legislature in the same statutory provision, the use of such different words have necessarily to be regarded as deliberate, and it would be interpretative folly, on our part, to attribute, to such different words, the same meaning.”

Bench also pointed out that reliance by Mr D. Verma counsel for Respondent 4 on provisions relating to elections to various bodies, containing the conditional expression “from amongst its members” is patently misconceived. The use of the word “from” is deliberate and can admit of only one construction. Members of the Council of Architecture, and Members alone, would be entitled to be regarded as representatives from the said Council. Further, submission of the respondent that any architect registered with the Council of Architecture was eligible to be regarded as a representative from the Council of Architecture, is totally unsustainable in law.

Construction and understanding, of words used in statutory provisions necessarily, has to be conditioned by the contours and context in which they are used.

Thus the words “from the Council of Architecture” are more than sufficient to indicate, clearly and unequivocally, the legislative intent, that the nominee concerned had to be a Member of the Council of Architecture and not just any of the teeming millions of architects practicing in the country. Appointment/ Nomination of Respondent 4 as a member of the Board of Governors of the SPA, by the impugned communication from Respondent 1 to the SPA is illegal being contrary to clause (d) of Section 13 (2) as he was admittedly not a Member of the Council of Architecture within the meaning of Section 3(3) of the Act. [Sudhir Vohra v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 6424, decided on 05-01-2018]

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