The Canon of Ejusdem Generis – A Useful Servant or a Bad Master for the Pakistani Income Tax Statute?

This article deals with the application of ejusdem generis – a canon of statutory interpretation – in Pakistan, a jurisdiction without codified canons of interpretation. The author examines the difficulties faced by Pakistani superior courts in applying the ejusdem generis doctrine in the context of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001. The article also examines various enumerative and exhaustive definition provisions of the Ordinance for applicability of the ejusdem generis principle to ascertain the scope of the defined terms. The author finds that the courts in Pakistan have been able to use, albeit with some difficulties, the ejusdem generis rule to determine the intent of provisions in the Ordinance. However, he concludes that legislature needs to be aware of canons of interpretation when drafting enactments, to ensure that their real purpose is secured.