Contemporanea Expositio Est Optima Et Fortissmo in Lege

Contemporanea Expositio Est Optima Et Fortissmo in Lege

Literal Meaning

The best way to interpret a document is to read it as it would have read when made.


Latin Term

Meaning – Contemporanea Expositio Est Optima Et Fortissmo in Lege

The maxim is constructed on the principle of Salmond that “the essence of law lies in the spirit, not its letter, for the letter is significant only as being the external manifestation of the intention that underlies it” Interpretation is considered to be the method of finding out the true sense of an enactment by the virtue of recognizing the natural and usual meaning of the words in any enactment. In supplementary words, it is noted as the process of ascertaining and finding out the true meaning of the words used in any statute. The Court over the time has placed down many principals for interpretation so that the interpretation does not amounts to be arbitrary.


According to this maxim, the doctrine of Contemporanea expositio is well known for interpreting a statute by reference to the exposition it has received from contemporary authority however it should give way where the language of the statute is plain and explicit. It is considered to be the best exposition of a statute or any other document is that which it has received from the authority which is competent enough. The words of a statute should be construed in such a way that it had been held by the person creating such statue in the true sense. It is considered as if they would have been as constructed as the day after the statute was approved. The rule is that a statute must be well-thought-out in the light of all conditions existing at the time of its enactment.


If some provision of a particular Act outlines that only a particular section of the society is qualified for the benefits of reservation or anything else and since it has been mainly mentioned and the intention by applying the principle of ‘Contemporanea Expositio Est Optima Et Fortissmo in lege’ is clear and definite, it means that only that particular section of the society can prevail the benefits offered by the provision and none else unless otherwise mentioned.

Case Reference

 A. P. Rangaswamy v State of Karnataka and ors, 2016 

it was observed that when public premises are leased or sold or mortgaged to some persons, it is to be done only under the requirements of law. Leasing the property of the Government or Municipality or Corporation, which is public property, shall be on the basis of distributive order and the persons of the society from different walks of life should be given an opportunity. When the premises are granted to a particular person, he has to utilize the same and shall also give a chance to other persons who are in line. When an agreement is entered into between the parties in clear terms, the agreement prevails over unless it is alleged that the agreement itself is a fraud, or etc. The period of occupation is four years eleven months and the said period had expired and thereafter if there is any continuation, the same shall be only on the basis of a renewal of licence or permission by open expression. No such permission is accepted or renewal is made, under these circumstances, petitioners have moved toward this Court which is quite contrary to the agreement entered into. The maxim “Conventio et modus vincunt legem” i.e., A contract and agreement overcome the law; and Conventio privatorum non potest publico juri derogare i.e., An agreement of private persons cannot derogate from the public right would apply in all fours to these cases. Under these circumstances, petitions fail and accordingly are liable.

Maa Binda Express Carrier and another v. North-East Frontier Railway and others,2013

The court held that ‘It is well-settled position of law that as per the series of decisions rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of award of contracts, the Government and its agency, have to act reasonably and fairly at all points of time and to that extent the tender has an enforceable right in the court which is competent to examine whether the aggrieved party has been treated unfairly or discriminated against to the detriment of public interest’.

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