`Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’

`Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’ is a traditional principle of interpretation. In the case of ‘Rjabir singh dalal v. Chaudhry devi lal university, (2008)’, Justice markandey Katju referred this rule and said that,

“It is deeply regrettable that in our Courts of law lawyers quote Maxwell and Craies but nobody refers to the Mimansa Principles of interpretation. Most lawyers would not have even heard of their existence. Today our so-called educated people are largely ignorant about the great intellectual achievements of our ancestors and the intellectual treasury which they have bequeathed us.

The Mimansa Principles of interpretation is part of that great intellectual treasury, but it is distressing to note that apart from the reference to these principles in the judgment of Sir John Edge, the then Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, in Beni Prasad v. Hardai Bibi, 1892 ILR 14 All 67 (FB), over a hundred years ago and in some judgments, there has been almost no utilization of these principles even in our own country.

Many of the Mimansa Principles are rational and scientific and can be utilized in the legal field (see in this connection K.L. Sarkar’s `Mimansa Rules of Interpretation’ which is a collection of Tagore Law Lectures delivered in 1905 containing the best exposition of these principles in English. Most other books on Mimansa are in Sanskrit).”

The founder

The Mimansa Principles of Interpretation, as laid down by Jaimini around the 5th century B.C. in his sutras and as explained by Sabar, Kumarila Bhatta, Prabhakar, Mandan Mishra, Shalignath, Parthasarathy Mishra, Apadeva, Shree Bhat Shankar, etc. were regularly used by our renowned jurists like Vijneshwara (author of Mitakshara), Jimutvahana (author of Dayabhaga), Nanda Pandit (author of Dattaka Mimansa), etc. whenever there they found any conflict between the various Smritis, e.g., Manusmriti and Yajnavalkya Smriti, or ambiguity, ellipse or absurdity in any Smriti.

Thus, the Mimansa principles were traditional system of interpretation of legal texts. Although originally they were created for interpreting religious texts pertaining to the Yagya (sacrifice), they were so rational and logical that gradually they came to be utilized in law, philosophy, grammar, etc., that is, they became of universal application. Thus, Shankaracharya has used the Mimansa Adhikaranas (principles) in his bhashya on the Vedanta sutras.

Casus omissus

In Mimansa, casus omissus (a situation omitted from or not provided for by statute or regulation and therefore governed by the common law), is known as adhyahara. The adhyahara principle permits to add words to a legal text. However, the superiority of the Mimansa Principles over Maxwell’s Principles in this respect is shown by the fact that Maxwell does not go into further detail and does not mention the sub-categories coming under the general category of casus omissus.

In the Mimansa system, on the other hand, the general category of adhyahara has under it several sub-categories, e.g., anusanga, anukarsha, vakyashesha, etc.

The anusanga principle

The anusanga principle (or elliptical extension) states that an expression occurring in one clause is often meant also for a neighbouring clause, and it is only for economy that it is only mentioned in the former (see Jaimini 2, 2, 16). The anusanga principle has a further sub- categorization.

If a clause which occurs in a subsequent sentence is to be read into a previous sentence it is a case of Tadapakarsha, but when it is vice-versa it is a case of Tadutkarsha.

The Anusanga principle of Mimansa was used by Jimutvahana in the Dayabhaga. Jimutvahana found that there is a text of Manu which states:

“Of a woman married according to the Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Gandharva and Prajapartya form, the property shall go to her husband if she dies without issue. But her property, given to her on her marriage in the form called Asura, Rakshasa and Paisacha, on her death without issue shall become the property of her parents.”

It can be seen that in the second sentence the word `property’ is qualified by the words `given to her on her marriage’, whereas in the first sentence there is no such qualification. Jimutvahana, using the anusanga principle of Mimansa, said that the words “given to her on her marriage” should also be inserted in the first sentence after the word “property”, and hence there also the word `property’ must be interpreted in a qualified sense.


Rajbir Singh Dalal v. Chaudhry Devi Lal University, (2008)