When there is a conflict between law and equity, it is the law which is to prevail. Equity can only supplement the law when there is a gap in it, but it cannot supplant the law

When there is a conflict between law and equity, it is the law which is to prevail. Equity can only supplement the law when there is a gap in it, but it cannot supplant the law

B. Premanand & Others vs Mohan Koikal & Others

Supreme Court

16/03/2011

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2684 OF 2007; MANU/SC/0249/2011; (2011) 4 SCC 266; AIR2011SC1925

About/from the judgment:

The Full Bench and the Single Judge have relied on equity, justice and good conscience, rather than law. This approach is incorrect. When there is a conflict between law and equity, it is the law which is to prevail. Equity can only supplement the law when there is a gap in it, but it cannot supplant the law.

 

Once we depart from the literal rule then any number of interpretations can be put to a statutory provision each Judge having a free play to put his own interpretation as he likes. This would be destructive of judicial discipline and also the basic principle in a democracy that it is not for the Judge to legislate as that is the task of the elected representatives of the people. Even if the literal interpretation results in hardship or inconvenience it has to be followed. Hence departure from the literal rule should only be done in very rare cases, and ordinarily there should be judicial restraint in this connection.

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