SC:Understanding of a particular administrative or executing authority is not always fait accompli

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 17th July 2020, in the matter of M/s. Ultratech Cement Ltd. & Anr. v. State of Rajasthan & Ors. held that as regards the contemporaneous construction placed by the administrative or executive officers charged with executing statute, the Courts lean in favour of attaching considerable weight to the same but it cannot be laid down that understanding of a particular administrative or executing authority is always fait accompli and has to be applied even if erroneous. The true principle is just to the contrary: that is, if a construction placed by the contemporary authority is found to be clearly wrong or erroneous, the same deserves to be disregarded.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

It remains trite that extending of any incentive in the form of exemption, rebate, concession or subsidy is a matter of the policy of the Government and for that matter, fiscal policy. Ordinarily, such framing of the policy remains within the domain of the Government; and the Government is entitled to frame a particular policy and to alter the same, as deemed fit and proper. (Para 22)

The doctrine of Contemporanea Expositio is applied as a guide to the interpretation of a statute or even document by referring to the exposition that the same had received from competent authority at the relevant point of time. This doctrine is also relatable to the doctrine of stare decisis whereunder, an exposition standing for a long length of time, is considered to be a law settled and is applied as such. As regards the contemporaneous construction placed by the administrative or executive officers charged with executing statute, the Courts lean in favour of attaching considerable weight to the same but, it cannot be laid down that understanding of a particular administrative or executing authority is always fait accompli and has to be applied even if erroneous. The true principle is just to the contrary: that is, if a construction placed by the contemporary authority is found to be clearly wrong or erroneous, the same deserves to be disregarded. (Para 25.3)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_17-Jul-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *