Question: Write a comprehensive note on constitutional guarantees against Ex-Post Facto. [BJS 1977] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Write a comprehensive note on constitutional guarantees against Ex-Post Facto.] Answer According to Article 20 (1) of the Constitution, no one can be awarded punishment that is more than what the law of the… Read More »

Question: Write a comprehensive note on constitutional guarantees against Ex-Post Facto. [BJS 1977] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Write a comprehensive note on constitutional guarantees against Ex-Post Facto.] Answer According to Article 20 (1) of the Constitution, no one can be awarded punishment that is more than what the law of the land prescribes at that time. This legal axiom is based on the principle that no criminal law can be made retrospective, that...

Question: Write a comprehensive note on constitutional guarantees against Ex-Post Facto. [BJS 1977]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Write a comprehensive note on constitutional guarantees against Ex-Post Facto.]

Answer

According to Article 20 (1) of the Constitution, no one can be awarded punishment that is more than what the law of the land prescribes at that time. This legal axiom is based on the principle that no criminal law can be made retrospective, that is, for an act to become an offense, the essential condition is that it should have been an offense legally at the time of committing it.

Ex post facto laws can either label an act as an offense with retrospective effect; or increase the punishment that is prescribed for an act committed in the past. It is important to protect the citizens of India from being punished for an act done, which was legal when it was done but was criminalized or the punishment for that activity has been enhanced by any act that was formulated later on. The prohibitions under Article 20(1) are only for a conviction or sentence, but not trial procedure.

This can be explained well through the case of Kedar Nath v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1953 SC 404. In this case, the accused committed an offense in 1947, which under the act then in force was punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. The act amended in 1949 which enhanced the punishment for the same offense by an additional fine equivalent to the amount of money procured by the accused through the offense. The Supreme Court held that the enhanced punishment could not be applicable to the act committed by the accused in 1947 and hence set aside the additional fine imposed by the amended act.

In the landmark case of Keshavanan Madhavan Menon v. the State of Bombay [1951 AIR 128], it is stated that fundamental rights that are granted have no retrospective effect and impact and that the invalidating of the laws through the doctrine of eclipse which is present in Article – 13 (1) which also deals with the future implementation of the law. An individual accused of having committed an offense has no fundamental right to trial by a particular procedure, except in so far as any constitutional objection by way of violation of any other fundamental rights.

The exception to the applicability of ex-post-facto laws is the doctrine of beneficial construction. In the case of Rattan Lal v. State of Punjab [1965 AIR 444], the court laid down the rule of beneficial construction required that an ex-post-facto law could be applied only to reduce the punishment.

Ex post facto law is all about an act that was not prohibited by law at the time of the commission of that particular act, through the understanding of Article 20 (1), it would not be made a punishable act or an offense by some legislation with retrospective effect and nor a punishment greater than what has been stated under the law which is enacted, could be made applicable to the act committed at a particular time by making a law later on with retrospective effect.

Therefore, the retrospective or retroactive law, which takes away basic rights of an individual away by prescribing a greater punishment or making any legal act prohibited by law after the enactment of any new law, is prohibited under Article 20 (1) and it, therefore, safeguards the interests and the rights of any individual by keeping in mind equity, justice, and good conscience.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  3. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-II
  4. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-05-28T05:11:35+05:30
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