What is the rule of 'Reading Down' the clause?

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What is the rule of 'Reading Down' the clause? Blog Image


The Supreme Court recently observed that if a plain reading of a clause fulfills the object and purpose of the statute, then the rule of 'Reading Down' the clause would not be applied just because the clause imposes harsher consequences.

About 'Reading Down' the clause:

  • “Reading Down” provision is one of the many methods the court may turn to when it finds that a particular provision, if for its plain meaning, cannot be saved from invalidation.
  • It refers to a legal interpretation approach where a court, while examining the validity of a statute, attempts to give a narrowed or restricted meaning to a particular provision to uphold its constitutionality.
  • When a court encounters a provision that, if interpreted according to its plain and literal meaning, might lead to constitutional or legal issues, the court may opt to read down the provision.
  • Reading down involves construing the language of the provision in a manner that limits its scope or application,making it consistent with constitutional or legal principles.
  • So, by restricting or reading it down, the court makes it workable to salvage and save the provision from invalidation.
  • This principle is rooted in the idea that courts should make every effort to preserve the validity of legislation and should only declare a law invalid as a last resort.
  • The rule of “Reading Down” is only for the limited purpose of making a provision workable and its objective achievable.

Q1: What is a Legal Clause?

A clause is a specific point or provision in a law or legal document. It can be an article, section, or standalone paragraph that addresses any topic pertaining to the document that contains it.