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Supreme Court: All the provisions in a statute have to be read harmoniously

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India reiterated that all the provisions of a statute have to be read harmoniously. The Special Leave Petition was filed before the Supreme Court challenging the interlocutory orders of the Odisha High Court.

Construction work is being carried out near the Puri Jagannath Temple. The contentions of the petitioner were that subsection (4) of section 20A of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act(AMASR Act), 1958 clearly states that no permission can be given for carrying out any public work in the prohibited area(area within a radius of 100 meters from the protected monument) after the President has given assent to amendments to the AMSAR act. Therefore, construction in the prohibited area of the temple is illegal. Further, the NMA(National Monuments Authority) is not authorized to give permission for the work.

The respondents argued that the permission for the work which has been given by the NMA(National Monuments Authority) is valid as it is a competent authority as per section 2(da) of the AMASR Act. Further Section 2(dc) of the Act excludes the construction of toilets, drainages, etc. from the definition of ” Construction”.

The respondents also contended that the Hon’ble Supreme Court itself had ordered the construction of separate toilets for men and women in the case of Mrinalini Padhi vs. Union of India and Others. The Court had observed that inconvenience was being caused to the devotees who came to visit the temple in large numbers. This will further help in making the city of Puri a world heritage city. The ASI was also directed to cooperate for the same. Therefore the nature of construction is according to the directions of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court accepted the submissions of the respondents. It further held that as far as the provisions of the AMSAR Act are concerned, the provisions of the statute have to be read harmoniously. It observed that:

…………..40. It is a settled principle of law that all the provisions in the statute have to be read harmoniously. It is presumed that each and every provision has been brought by the legislature into the statute book with some purpose. A particular provision cannot be read in isolation and has to be read in context to each other. An attempt has to be made to reconcile all the provisions of the statute together, unless it is impossible.

41. At first blush, the arguments of the appellants on the basis of sub­section (4) of Section 20A of the said Act may
appear to be attractive. But when sub­section (4) of Section 20A of the said Act is read in harmony with clause (dc) of
Section 2 and the provisions of Sections 20C and 20D of the said Act, we find that the submission that no construction at all can be made in the prohibited area or the regulated area would be unsustainable.”

The Court held that such construction is necessary for the public interest. It also made a remark that these days Public Interest Litigations are either Publicity Interest Litigations or Personal Interest Litigations and filing of such PILs should be avoided to save judicial time.


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