IMPORTANT LEGAL MAXIMS & DOCTRINES

Act so that maxim of your act could be made the principal of universal law

Immanuel Kant

INTRODUCTION

A well-known legal theory, proposition, or concept, typically articulated in Latin, is known as a legal maxim. The majority of these Latin proverbs were first used by European governments that used Latin as their official language in the medieval ages. These guidelines assist courts all over the world in applying existing laws in a fair and reasonable way, enabling them to settle cases that come before them. Such concepts are not legally binding, but when courts apply them to resolve legal disputes or when legislators embrace them while passing laws, they acquire legal status and become the cornerstone of sensible decisions.

These maxims are usually a single term or a phrase so as to avoid the use exhaustive definitions and explanations. For instance we have the famous legal maxim “Ipso facto” which means “by the fact itself”, so in place of a statement we can use ipso facto which turns out to be useful in practice. The views of early English philosophers about the application of legal maxims are admirable. Thomas Hobbes asserted that legal maxims carry the same weight as laws and acts in his work “Doctor and Student.”

INTERESTING AND CRUCIAL MAXIMS IN LAW

Every law or statute was created with a specific goal in mind. It is crucial for the judge to interpret the clauses in a way that does not frustrate the legislative intent. By providing a framework and criteria for interpreting the law, legal maxims play a crucial role in supporting the judiciary.

AB INITIO

Ab initio is a commonly used latin maxim that means “from the very beginning”.

LITERAL MEANING

Ab initio literally means “from the very beginning of the law/act it was wrong.” In relation to legislation, agreements, a deed created between parties, marriage, and similar topics, such a phrase is employed. When something is said to be “void ab initio,” it signifies that it never existed or void at its creation.

BRIEF INTERPRETATION OF AB INITIO

When a court deems anything to be a case of ab initio, it indicates that the court’s decision applies from the moment an act had taken place or the circumstances for the case in question were in place and not from the time the court actually ruled on the subject. In contracts, property, and marriages, the word void ab initio is frequently used.

For instance, if a police officer enters ‘A’s’ home on the authority of a court order allowing him to seize a pricey painting but also removes a lovely marble sculpture, he is seen as a trespasser ab initio. This comes as a result of his abuse of the court’s authority.

JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS BASED ON AB INITIO

Delhi Development Authority v. Kochhar Construction Work & Ors (1996)

In its 1996 ruling in the case of Delhi Development Authority v. Kochhar Construction Work & Ors, the Supreme Court of India used the Latin term “ab initio” to reach the conclusion that the proceedings were flawed from the start because the firm in whose name they were commenced was not registered at the time of the institution of the proceedings.

The issue of the appeal in this instance is how Sections 69(2) and (3) of the Indian Partnership Act, 1932, should be interpreted in light of Section 20 of the Arbitration Act, 1940. The High Court of Delhi received a complaint from the respondent, an unregistered company, in accordance with Section 20 of the 1940 Arbitration Act. In a counterclaim, the Delhi Development Authority said that the statute of limitations had prohibited the proceedings.

A Learned Single Judge approved the lawsuit and mandated the selection of an arbitrator. Before a Division Bench of the High Court, the Respondent filed a first appeal over that decision. That appeal was rejected on the grounds that the firm’s later registration remedied the first fault because it was done within the statute of limitations. A further appeal was filed with the Apex Court.

IGNORANTIA FACTI EXCUSAT ; IGNORANTIA JURIS NON- EXCUSAT

LITERAL MEANING

The legal maxim ignorantia juris non excusat implies that ignorance of the law is no excuse & the legal maxim ignorantia facti excusat means ignorance of fact is an excuse.

BRIEF INTERPRETATION OF IGNORANTIA FACTI EXCUSAT ; IGNORANTIA JURIS NON- EXCUSAT

Wherever the east is, the west will also be there. It indicates that there is always an antagonistic object present. As a result, ignorance will always exist where there is knowledge. The Latin proverb “Ignorantia facti excusat” means “knowing a fact or making a factual error is an excuse.” Both civil and criminal actions may make use of it.

It stipulates that if a person charged with an offence claims they are unaware of the facts, their ignorance shall be accepted as an explanation. Ignorantia is a Latin term that can mean either ignorance or error; the two ideas are equivalent. This maxim states that a person is exempt from both criminal and civil culpability when they are ignorant of a material fact or engage in unlawful behaviour for which they were unable to foresee or intend the consequences of their actions.

There are many distinct categories of law, including contract law, criminal law, family law, and civil law. Everyone is aware that anybody violates one of these laws will be held responsible. This maxim is known as ignorantia juris non excusat. It is a Latin adage that says that failure to grasp the law, or making a legal mistake on its requirements, does not exempt one from accountability. Ignorance of the law, regardless of whether it is comprehensive or not, refers to a person’s lack of understanding of the laws that they are expected to know. There are two different kinds of faults that might be present here: mistakes in Indian law or mistakes in foreign law. If an Indian law has been broken, ignorance of the law is not a defence.

JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS BASED ON IGNORANTIA FACTI EXCUSAT ; IGNORANTIA JURIS NON- EXCUSAT

Ashok Kumar Sharma v. State of Rajasthan (2013)

In the 2013 case of Ashok Kumar Sharma v. State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court of India was asked to decide whether the empowered officer acting under Section 50 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) is required by law to inform the accused of his right to be searched before a Gazetted Officer or a Magistrate and whether such a procedure is required by the Act’s provisions.

The paragraph of judgement that stated the maxim was “In this regard, we can consider the general principle “ignorantia juris non excusat” and if, in such a case, the accused could claim ignorance of the method outlined in Section 50 of the NDPS Act. Because a person is supposed to know the law, ignorance does not generally provide a defence under criminal law. Unquestionably, ignorance of the law occurs in reality, even if it is true, though as a general proposition, it is true that knowledge of law must be imputed to every person.”

INJURIA SINE DAMNO

LITERAL MEANING

Injuria sine damno describes situations in which a completely private right has been violated without any apparent harm or loss. Simply put, harm sustained without any sign of damage.

BRIEF INTERPRETATION OF INJURIA SINE DAMNO

When a legal right is violated without causing any evil, misfortune, or harm to the one who was offended, this is known as injuria sine damno. The person who holds the legal right has the right to file a lawsuit. Each person has a fundamental right to their possessions, invulnerability, and freedom, and any violation of these rights is grave. An individual whose legal right has been violated has a cause for action, and that cause of action should be pursued even if the legal right has been intentionally violated.

JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS BASED ON INJURIA SINE DAMNO

Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu & Kashmir (1985)

In the 1985 case Bhim Singh v. Province of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Bhim Singh, an MLA from Jammu and Kashmir, was detained and held in police custody, preventing him from attending meetings of the high-ranking authorities. But the candidate for whom he had to cast a ballot won, and his ability to vote was revoked. The police remand the person who has been arrested but fail to present him to the judge within the stipulated time period, resulting in an infringement of personal liberty. There was a serious infringement of privileges under Articles 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution.

The paragraph concerning the maxim was , “It was decided that there was a capture with a devilish and malevolent intent, and the offended party was entitled to remuneration of Rs. 50,000 because an individual from the administrative gathering was kidnapped while en route to the authoritative gathering, making it difficult to attend the looming gathering meeting. In the case of Injuria Sine Damnum, the court has the authority to compensate the victim by awarding reasonable monetary compensation.”

LIS PENDENS

LITERAL MEANING

Lis pendens is Latin for “pending litigation,” which also refers to “pending suit.” It comes from the adage “Pendente lite nihil innovature,” which says that nothing new should be brought up while a lawsuit or other legal proceeding is ongoing.

BRIEF INTERPRETATION OF LIS PENDENS

According to the Lis Pendens doctorine, the transfer of immovable property is prohibited while there is an ongoing legal dispute over the title or any rights that immediately result from it. The lawsuit officially starts when a complaint is filed or when the appropriate court’s processes get underway, and it ends when the Court makes an order.

This doctrine is required because, if alienations are allowed to prevail and no covenants are imposed, endless litigation will result and it will be impossible to bring a lawsuit to a successful conclusion. Without this doctrine, no title to any disputed property may be transferred without the court’s permission. The transfer will be made subject to the resolution of the ongoing action, and the “Transferee pendente lite” will be made subject to the verdict in the same manner as if they were a party to the claim.

JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS BASED ON LIS PENDENS

Koyalee v. Rajasthan District (2008)

In the case of Koyalee v. Rajasthan District, the land in question was first registered in the name of the plaintiff’s husband (2008). After he passed away, his brother sued to inherit the Khatedari rights knowing that the deceased wife was still alive and the only legal successor; as a result, the widow was obliged to deny that she was the only legal heir of the documented Khatedar. The brother then went ahead and transferred the land despite the ongoing legal dispute since he did so without first obtaining permission from the court.

The paragraph concerning the maxim was, “Thus, from the decisions referred, it is clear that during the pendency of the suit, a transfer or alienation of property without the leave of the court is hit by the doctrine of lis pendens as envisaged under Section 52 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 and the purchaser is bound by the decree between the original litigating party and subsequent purchaser during pendency is neither a necessary nor proper party”

FUNCTUS OFFICIO

LITERAL MEANING

According to the maxim of “functus officio“, an arbitrator has no recourse after rendering a decision on the issues at hand. This is known as “having done his work.” Numerous national laws have endorsed this concept, which has a long history in international arbitration.

BRIEF INTERPRETATION OF FUNCTUS OFFICIO

It is common for a losing party to make an attempt to re-engage the court by bringing up a neglected issue or fresh proof. This is a result of their ignorance of the finality of a court ruling. This concept entered common law practise with the Judicature Act, 1873, giving the present decision finality and allowing appeals to a higher authority. If judicial decisions were not final and could be reopened at the request and application of any disgruntled litigants, the conflicts would never be resolved and justice would never be served. As a result, after making a judgement, the judge is no longer able to reverse it.

JUDICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS BASED ON FUNCTUS OFFICIO

State Bank of India & Ors v. S.N. Goyal (2008)

In State Bank of India & Ors v. S.N. Goyal (2008), the Supreme Court of India was debating an appeal brought by the defendant employer against a decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court (State Bank of India). In this case, the apex court heard a challenge to the employer’s termination from his employment.

The paragraph concerning the maxim was, “The learned counsel for the respondent contended that the Appointing Authority became functus officio once he passed the order dated 18.1.1995 agreeing with the penalty proposed by the Disciplinary Authority and cannot thereafter revise/review/modify the said order.”

DOCTRINES ONE MUST KNOW

DOCTRINE OF PITH AND SUBSTANCE

According to the Doctrine of Pith and Content, legislation does not become illegal only because it has an effect on a matter outside the purview of a legislature if the substance of the legislation is within that body’s legal jurisdiction. The word “pith and substance” means “true nature and character.” This idea pertains to the violation of the constitutional limitations on the legislative authority of a federal state. The Court utilities it to decide whether the alleged intrusion is serious or merely accidental.

Accordingly, the “pith and substance” theory contends that the challenged legislation is essentially within the legislative purview of the legislature that passed it but only incidentally intrudes into the purview of another legislature. The current article covers this idea in detail, emphasising how the Indian Constitution has interpreted it.

The notion of pith and substance was inspired by the Canadian Constitution. The Dominion and the Provinces are the two halves of the country of Canada. The creators of the Canadian Constitution introduced two distinct lists to the Constitution in order to split the powers of the Dominions and Provinces. The British North America Act, which was initially passed in 1857 and became Section 69 of the Canadian Constitution, distinguished between the powers granted to the Dominion and those granted to the Provinces. The exclusive rights of the Dominions and Provinces are further defined in Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act of 1867.

DOCTRINE OF ACT OF GOD/ VIS MAJOR

An act of God is described as a direct, unexpected, outrageously violent, natural, and irresistible act of nature that could not have been anticipated with any degree of care or, if anticipated, could not have been prevented with any degree of care by any human. Since the beginning of our planet’s existence, natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, etc. have plagued mankind. These disasters are known as acts of God. When nature’s powers hit unexpectedly and severely, lives are lost, homes are destroyed, or they sustain substantial damage.

Natural disaster victims and even the alleged perpetrators or tortfeasors may experience a great shock or surprise as a result of nature’s blows, which are extremely hazardous. The defence of an act of God is frequently raised by the defendants in these situations. There must be an immediate or proximate cause (Causa causans) and not only a cause that, had it not existed, may not have resulted in the damage caused or complained of in order to enable the defence of vis major (causa sine quo non).

Before an act of God may be granted as a defence the defendant has to prove himself to have done everything that a reasonable and a prudent person could do in such a scenario.

CONCLUSION

In various court proceedings and other areas, several unique legal maxims and doctrines are often used. As a result, a remark that explains a legal principle, concept, or notion is referred to as a legal maxim. Numerous legal maxims and doctrines have been accepted depending on the situation in which they are to be used. Although all of the current legal maxims are not included in this article, it aims to cover the most important and often applied ones.

REFERENCES

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