HOW TO UNDERSTAND BARE ACT TO UNDERSTAND LAW PROPERLY?
Author: Anamika M J, National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi
A bare Act contains the rules or provisions relating to the matter discussed under law. To read and understand the law properly by reading a bare Act one needs to know the structure of a bare Act. The Bare Act contains the Title of the Act on the top of the Text, below that in square brackets a date will be mentioned. This date is the date of enactment, that is the date in which a bill became an Act. In other words, that date signifies the date on which the President of India signed on the bill to approve the law. After this, there will be a preamble of the Act. This is not part of every Act, the preamble effectively describes the purpose of the Act.
To understand an Act one should follow the following steps.
- IDENTIFY NATURE AND PURPOSE
Chapter 1 of every Act begins with a short title of the Act. This is the name by which Act shall be known, it also contains the year in which the Act was passed. This chapter also contains the commencement of the Act, this is the date on which the Act comes into force. The commencement of the Act can take place differently. An Act can come into force in parts, which means different provisions of the Act come into place at different times as notified by the government in the official gazette. In another type, different dates will be assigned to different States to enact the Act by publishing it in the official gazette. The discretion lies in the hands of the State to select the date on which the Act comes into force. In certain situations the Act passed may be retrospective in enforcement, which means the Act comes into force from a retrospective date than the enactment date. One such example is the Karnataka Schedule caste and Schedule Tribes Act, 1978. Most of the Acts are prospective in nature while there are certain exceptions as well.
2. EXTEND OF APPLICATION
The chapter also contains the extent to which the act applies. This section describes the territorial extent of the application of the Act. Before August 5 of 2019, almost all the Acts passed contained a clause that exempted its application in Jammu and Kashmir due to its special status given by Article 370. Similarly, the eastern state also has certain exemptions in its application which will be mentioned in certain Acts. This is another feature of the Act which should be considered while reading the Act to understand it.
3. INTERPRETATION AND DEFINITIONS
After reading the first chapter of Act one will be able to understand the nature and purpose of the Act, the law dealt in the Act and the reason for its enactment can be understood after reading this chapter. The second chapter of the Act is of importance since it is the interpretation clause, this chapter discusses the definition of certain words of importance in the Act. These definitions explain what those words imply in the Act. While reading the Act one should keep in mind these definitions to understand the legislation properly.
4. INTERPRET IN THE LITERAL MEANING
While reading the subsequent chapters we should interpret the matter literally for a better understanding of the matter discussed. The complex sentences must be broken into parts for understanding it properly. The comas and the pauses must be taken while reading so that one can absorb the context in the correct sentences. Another important aspect one needs to consider while reading the Bare Act is that we should give special attention to some terms. The words like and, or, may, shall have great importance. For example ‘the petition requires the sign of advocate and the petitioner’ and the sentence ‘the petition requires the sign of advocate or the petitioner’ is different. In the first case, the signatures of both of them are required while in the second instance the signature of either of them is only required. Similar is the case in the usage of ‘may’ and ‘shall’. When ‘may’ is used it means it is not necessary while when ‘shall’ is used the requirements mentioned shall comply without fail. The failure of compliance will be seen as the deviation from the law.
5. READ THE SENTENCES IN TO PARTS RATHER READING IT AS A WHOLE
While reading any section, you can find that reading it as a whole is difficult to understand. When you read the full section, in the initial days, you might face some difficulty to understand its meaning. So, to solve this issue, try to read the section in the parts, understand the meaning of a short sentence and then do the same further and then you will be able to understand any section more effectively than earlier.
If the person reading the Bare Act follows these steps mentioned above while reading a Bare Act he can understand the law clearly with precision about the law described in the Act. The reading of a Bare Act is the right and efficient way to understand any law passed.
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