The Difference In Interpretation of The Words “May” and “Shall” In Law in India

The Difference In Interpretation of The Words "May" and "Shall" In Law in India

The Difference In Interpretation of The Words “May” and “Shall” In Law in India

Did you know that the words “may” and “shall” could be used interchangeably? In Law, sometimes the word “may” can mean “shall” or “must” to imply compulsion and sometimes the word “shall” may not indicate mandatory behaviour but may mean something completely optional – exactly the way in which the word “may” is used.

This article deals with the Interpretation of the words “may” and “shall” in Indian Law and what they really mean. Since these words are not technical terms as far as Law is concerned, reliance is placed upon various Case Law, which helps us understand how to interpret these terms.

Dictionary Meanings

May

1. (used to express possibility):
It may rain.
2. (used to express opportunity or permission):
You may enter.
3. (used to express contingency, especially in clauses indicating condition, concession, purpose, result, etc.):
I may be wrong but I think you would be wise to go. Times may change but human nature stays the same.
4. (used to express wish or prayer):
May you live to an old age.
5. Archaic. (used to express ability or power.)

Shall

1. plan to, intend to, or expect to:
I shall go later.
2. will have to, is determined to, or definitely will:
You shall do it. He shall do it.
3. (in laws, directives, etc.) must; is or are obliged to:
The meetings of the council shall be public.
4. (used interrogatively in questions, often in invitations):
Shall we go?

Case Law

M/s. Mahaluxmi Rice Mills & Ors vs State Of U.P. & Ors

It is significant to note that the word used for the seller to realise market fee from his purchaser is “may” while the word used as for the seller to pay the market fee to the Committee is “shall”. Employment of the said two monosyllables of great jurisprudential import in the same clause dealing with two rights regarding the same burden must have two different imports. The legislative intendment can easily be discerned from the frame of the sub-clause that what is conferred on the seller is only an option to collect market fee from his purchaser, but the seller has no such option and it is imperative for him to remit the fee to the Committee. In other words, the Market Committee is entitled to collect market fee from the seller irrespective of whether the seller has realised it from the purchaser or not.

Rajender Mohan Rana & Ors vs Prem Prakash Chaudhary & Ors

Section 55 uses the word “may sue‟ which indicates a discretionary element that a joint bhumidhar may approach the Court of Revenue Assistant for partition. Normally, the word “may‟ means discretion and is not mandatory. In the present case we do not see any reason why the word “may‟ in Section 55, should be read as “must‟ or “shall‟. Courts do not interpret the word “may‟ as “shall” unless such interpretation is necessary and required to void absurdity, inconvenient consequence or is mandated by the intent of the legislature which is collected from other parts of the statute. While examining the third aspect, the courts examine the purpose, object, design and scope of the statute.

10. To reiterate the words “may” and “shall” are distinct in meaning. While one confers a discretionary power, the latter one pelts out mandatory directions. These words are not synonymous but may be used interchangeably if the context requires such interpretation.

Amicable resolution of disputes and differences is encouraged and recognized by law. It is not forbidden. The courts while interpreting provisions of law tend to support settlement and mutual agreements. Unless a specific provision of law is breached and violated, a settlement agreement is not prohibited. The effort of Court is to minimize litigation and not to multiply it.

 

Official Liquidator v. Dharti Dhan (P) Ltd. (1977) 2 SCC 166

“7. …It follows that the order to be passed must be discretionary and the power to pass it must, therefore, be directory and not mandatory. In other words, the word “may”, used before “stay” in Section 442 of the Act really means “may” and not “must” or “shall” in such a context. In fact, it is not quite accurate to say that the word “may”, by itself, acquires the meaning of “must” or “shall’ sometimes. This word, however, always signifies a conferment of power. That power may, having regard to the context in which it occurs, and the requirements contemplated for its exercise, have annexed to it an obligation which compels its exercise in a certain way on facts and circumstances from which the obligation to exercise it in that way arises. In other words, it is the context which can attach the obligation to the power compelling its exercise in a certain way. The context, both legal and factual, may impart to the power that obligatoriness.
8. Thus, the question to be determined in such cases always is whether the power conferred by the use of the word “may” has, annexed to it, an obligation that, on the fulfilment of certain legally prescribed conditions, to be shown by evidence, a particular kind of order must be made. If the statute leaves no room for discretion the power has to be exercised in the manner indicated by the other legal provisions which provide the legal context. Even then the facts must establish that the legal conditions are fulfilled. A power is exercised even when the court rejects an application to exercise it in the particular way in which the applicant desires it to be exercised. Where the power is wide enough to cover both an acceptance and a refusal of an application for its exercise, depending upon facts, it is directory or discretionary. It is not the conferment of a power which the word “may” indicates that annexes any obligation to its exercise but the legal and factual context of it. This as we understand it, was the principle laid down in the case cited before us: Frederic Guilder Julius v. Right Rev. Lord Bishop of Oxford: Re v. Thomas Thellusson Carter.(5 AC 214).
10. The principle laid down above has been followed consistently by this Court whenever it has been contended that the word “may” carries with it the obligation to exercise a power in a particular manner or direction. In such a case, it is always the purpose of the power which has to be examined in order to determine the scope of the discretion conferred upon the donee of the power. If the conditions in which the power is to be exercised in particular cases are also specified by a statute then, on the fulfilment of those conditions, the power conferred becomes annexed with a duty to exercise it in that manner. This is the principle we deduce from the cases of this Court cited before us: Bhaiya Punjalal Bhagwandin v. Dave Bhagwatprasad Prabhuprasad (AIR 1963 SC 120), State of Uttar Pradesh v. Jogendra Singh (AIR 1963 SC 1618), Sardar Govindrao v. State of M.P.(AIR 1965 SC 1222), Shri A.C. Aggarwal, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Delhi v. Smt Ram Kali, Bashira v. State of U.P.(AIR 1968 SC 1) and Prakash Chand Agarwal v. Hindustan Steel Ltd.((1970) 2 SCC 806 ).”

Dinesh Chandra Pandey v. High Court of Madhya Pradesh, (2010) 11 SCC 500

To elucidate the words “may” and “shall”, and interpret them, the Supreme Court in Dinesh Chandra Pandey v. High Court of Madhya Pradesh, (2010) 11 SCC 500 has held as under:-

“15. The courts have taken a view that where the expression “shall” has been used it would not necessarily mean that it is mandatory. It will always depend upon the facts of a given case, the conjunctive reading of the relevant provisions along with other provisions of the Rules, the purpose sought to be achieved and the object behind implementation of such a provision. This Court in Sarla Goel v. Kishan Chand, took the view that where the word “may” shall be read as “shall” would depend upon the intention of the legislature and it is not to be taken that once the word “may” is used, it per se would be directory. In other words, it is not merely the use of a particular expression that would render a provision directory or mandatory. It would have to be interpreted in the light of the settled principles, and while ensuring that intent of the Rule is not frustrated.”

Mohan Singh v. International Airport Authority of India (1997) 9 SCC 132

Supreme Court in Mohan Singh v. International Airport Authority of India (1997) 9 SCC 132 held as below:

“26. Thus, this Court, keeping in view the objects of the Act, had considered whether the language in a particular section, clause or sentence is directory or mandatory. The word „shall‟, though prima facie gives impression of being of mandatory character, it requires to be considered in the light of the intention of the legislature by carefully attending to the scope of the statute, its nature and design and the consequences that would flow from the construction thereof one way or the other. In that behalf, the court is required to keep in view the impact on the profession, necessity of its compliance; whether the statute, if it is avoided, provides for any contingency for non-compliance; if the word „shall‟ is construed as having mandatory character, the mischief that would ensue by such construction; whether the public convenience would be subserved or public inconvenience or the general inconvenience that may ensue if it is held mandatory and all other relevant circumstances are required to be taken into consideration in construing whether the provision would be mandatory or directory. If an object of the enactment is defeated by holding the same directory, it should be construed as mandatory whereas if by holding it mandatory serious general inconvenience will be created to innocent persons of general public without much furthering the object of enactment, the same should be construed as directory but all the same, it would not mean that the language used would be ignored altogether. Effect must be given to all the provisions harmoniously to suppress public mischief and to promote public justice.”

In Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhan Vs. State of Gujarat [(1997) 7 SCC 622] this Court held:

“Mandamus which is a discretionary remedy under Article 226 of the Constitution is requested to be issued, inter alia, to compel performance of public duties which may be administrative, ministerial or statutory in nature. Statutory duty may be either directory or mandatory. Statutory duties, if they are intended to be mandatory in character, are indicated by the use of the words “shall” or “must”. But this is not conclusive as “shall” and “must” have, sometimes, been interpreted as “may”. What is determinative of the nature of duty, whether it is obligatory, mandatory or directory, is the scheme of the statute in which the “duty” has been set out. Even if the “duty” is not set out clearly and specifically in the statute, it may be implied as correlative to a “right”.

Prof. Wade, also, in his well-known treatise ‘Administrative Law’, 8th Edition, at page 609 makes a distinction between a discretionary power and obligatory duties in the following terms:

“Obligatory duties must be distinguished from discretionary powers. With the latter mandamus has nothing to do: it will not, for example, issue to compel a minister to promote legislation. Statutory duties are by no means always imposed by mandatory language with words such as ‘shall’ or ‘must’. Sometimes they will be the implied counterparts of rights, as where a person ‘may appeal’ to a tribunal and the tribunal has a correlative duty to hear and determine the appeal. Sometimes also language which is apparently merely permissive is construed as imposing a duty, as where ‘may’ is interpreted to mean ‘shall’. Even though no compulsory words are used, the scheme of the Act may imply a duty.

A. C. Aggarwal … vs Mst. Ram Kali, Etc. AIR 1 1968 SCR (1) 205

“Under section 190(1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Magistrate is bound to take cognizance of any cognizable offence brought to his notice. The words “may take cognizance” in the context means “must take cognizance”. He has no discretion in the matter, otherwise that section will be violative of Article 14.”

The Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder (Explained Visually)

Lawgic.info endeavours to simplify the law, so that its understanding is easy. One of the ways of doing that is to teach law using visual aids, which is contrary to conventional practice.

I have not seen Law books which use flowcharts or infographics to explain legal concepts or statutes. Although some law books do use them to explain procedural aspects of law, the substantive aspects are neglected.

The below flowchart, visually explains the difference between Murder (punishable under section 300 of the Indian Penal Code) and Culpable Homicide Not Amounting to Murder (punishable under section 299 of the Indian Penal Code).

Flowchart to determine Murder

Murder is defined in the IPC as:

300. Murder
Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
(Secondly) If it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused, or
(Thirdly) If it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and the bodily injury intended to be in­flicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death, or
(Fourthly) If the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or such injury as aforesaid.

Culpable Homicide is defined in the IPC as:

299. Culpable homicide
Whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death, or with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide.

This visual aid is for academic purposes only and cannot be used to interpret a specific case.
Was this visual aid helpful? If Yes, then do share it with others. If not, then do let us know why. Send in your improvements, error reports or suggestions to info [at] lawgic.info

How To View Public Documents Of A Company In India

View Public Documents Of Any Company In India through the MCA website. Icon from ohmyicons.com - Lawgic.info Article

View Public Documents Of Any Company In India through the MCA website

How can I view the public documents or inspect the official records of a public or private company registered in India?

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India now allows you to view the Public Documents and Records filed by public and private companies in India, online on the MCA website http://mca.gov.in.

Why is the online search option useful?

This can be especially useful for members of the Public, NGO’s, Journalists investigating fraudulent companies or transactions, rival companies and also activists. By paying a nominal fee, the details of any company registered in India is available online.

Do I need to visit the Registrar of Companies or Ministry of Corporate Affairs office to view the documents online?

You do not need to apply for inspection or visit the Registrar of Companies. There is also a provision of checking if what documents you are searching for, really exist or are available online. This helps prevent wastage of time and money. This can be an excellent tool to identify shell companies and expose dubious transactions and activity of a registered company in India.

This is a paid service, costing Rs. 100 per company for 3 hours. Within the 3 hours you can download as many documents as possible for that company. The 3 hour period starts when you get access the company details. You can access the company details within 7 days from making the payment.

Which are the public documents of a company that I can get online through the MCA website?

You can get the following documents of any public or private company registered in India:

  • Certificates (Eg. Certificate of Commencement of Business, Certificate of Incorporation)
  • Change in Directors
  • Incorporation Documents
  • Charge Documents
  • Annual Returns and Balance Sheet eForms
  • LLP Forms (Conversion of company to LLP)
  • Other eForm Documents
  • Other Attachments

Can I get the documents for all years, online at the MCA website?

Documents are currently available from the year 2006 onwards only, as they have been digitized only since then.

What are the steps to View the Public Documents of an Indian company online?

First, create an account at the mca.gov.in page.
Ministry Of Corporate Affairs - Home - Chromium_001

Fill in the form to create an account. Select “Registered User” for an individual’s account.

Ministry Of Corporate Affairs - MCA Services - Chromium_002

After creating an account, Login to the account
Ministry Of Corporate Affairs - MCA Services - Chromium_003 Ministry Of Corporate Affairs - MCA Services - Chromium_004

After logging in, select the MCA SERVICES menu and then click on the “View Public Documents” optionScreenshot from 2016-04-24 12-24-50
To view the documents of a company, first select the Check Box for Company Name and then type in a few characters of the company name. Then click on Submit.

In the list of search results that come up, select the company CIN No. for which you want to check the Public Documents.
Screenshot from 2016-04-24 12-27-18

Once you see the company name displayed, select the Type of Document that you are looking for, by clicking on the Document Category.Screenshot from 2016-04-24 12-31-08

For incorporation Documents, select the option “incorporation Documents“.
Screenshot from 2016-04-24 12-31-16

Then select the Year in which the Incorporation Documents were filed with the MCA. if you do not know the year, you will need to search through each year, one by one, from 2006 onwards. Click on the Submit button once you have selected the year and Document Category.Screenshot from 2016-04-24 12-31-29

If a record exists, the search result will be displayed. it will show you the Form or Document Number that was filed and also the Date of Filing with the MCA.Screenshot from 2016-04-24 12-38-50

if you have found what you are looking for, then click on the option of “Add this Company to Cart“.

Note: Irrespective of the number of documents you want to download, you will be charged Rs. 100 per company for a 3 hour search. Within the 3 hours, you can download as many documents of the company as you want. Whether you want 1 document or you want several, the fee is a flat Rs. 100.

After you have added the company to Cart, you will be shown the amount of money that you need to pay, along with a summary of the Cart contents and Cart total. If you want to get documents of other companies, then select the “Add more companies to Cart” option.

if you are done with your document search, click on the “Make Payment” option to make a payment of the search fees so that you can view the documents. Screenshot from 2016-04-24 13-44-06

When you click on the Make Payment option, your cart summary will be confirmed again and you will be able to see the Total amount payable. Click on Pay Fee, to select the Payment mode.Screenshot from 2016-04-24 13-44-17

The MCA allows you to pay the search fee through various modes of payment including:

  • Credit / Debit Card
  • Internet Banking
  • Cheque
  • NEFT

Select the payment option and click on the Submit button to go to the Payment Gateway or Payment instructions.

Screenshot from 2016-04-24 13-44-36

On the page that appears, immediately note down your Service Request No. BEFORE you make the payment. Incase the payment fails to go through, you can check the status of the payment using this number.

After noting down the number, click on the I Accept button.Screenshot from 2016-04-24 13-45-01

You will be taken to the payment page, where you need to complete the payment formalities. Once you have completed the payment, you should get a Receipt.

After your payment was successful, you need to click on the “My Workspace” menu option, to access the documents and view the companies that you want the information for.

Screenshot from 2016-04-24 13-45-39

Once you are on the My Workspace page, scroll down to the bottom, to see the companies for which you can make a search and view the public documents.

Click on the Download button for each company that you want to check the Public Documents.

Remember that the 3 hours starts ticking from the time that you have clicked on the Download button here. Within the 3 hours you need to inspect all the documents and Save / Download them to your local computer, for future reference.

MCA1

When you click on the Download option, you will see the company name and the list of Categories for Documents. Click on each category to browse the documents for that company. MCA2

After you click on the Category name, you will be taken to the Document List. Click on the Document Name, to Download the pdf version of the document. Remember to save the document in a safe place on your local computer. MCA3

 

To go back to the document list, there is no short cut, you need to go back to the My Workspace menu option and click on the Download option next to the company name and come back to the Category List.MCA4

 

if the document list contains a large number of entries, they will be spread across multiple pages. Don’t forget to click on the Page number or Next>> option to traverse the pages. MCA5

Frequently Asked Questions

In what format will the documents be downloaded in?

All the documents are in PDF format. You will need a PDF viewer to view the documents.

 

Interpretation of Statutes

Part of

3 Year Course (First Year Sem V)

5 Year Course (Third Year Sem X)

Topics

Introduction

Rules of Statutory Interpretation

Presumptions in Statutory Interpretations

Maxims of Statutory Interpretations

Interpretation with reference to subject matter and purpose

Principles of Constitutional Interpretation

General Clauses Act