Coke Maxim: “A new law should be forward-looking, not retroactive in its application.” Normally, a legislature has the power to enact future laws, but Article 20 of the Indian Constitution of 1950 provides certain safeguards for persons accused of a crime, so Article 20 (1) of the Indian Constitution limits the legislative power of the Constitution. It prohibits Parliament from enacting retroactive criminal laws, but does not prohibit retroactive civil liability, that is, with previous effect. Thus, a tax can be levied retroactively. Section 20 (1) of the Constitution of India guarantees rights against retroactive laws. It provides that “no one may be convicted of an offence except for violation of a law in force at the time when the act charged as a criminal offence was committed, nor be subjected to a heavier penalty than that which could have been imposed under the law in force at the time the offence was committed”. The U.S. Constitution is also a similar provision that prohibits retroactive legislation by central and state legislators. Meaning: The dictionary meaning of the word prospective in relation to laws shows that they are future laws or at least from the date of coming into force of the law or their application. The term “retrospective”, when used in connection with an act, may mean: 1. the performance of an existing contract or 2. the reopening of past, concluded and completed transactions, or 3.
Impact on acquired rights and remedies or 4. Procedure of influence. The retroactive application of an order can mean one thing and the rights of the parties another. Normally, an Order in Council is prospective in nature. This does not affect what has been or has already been completed and closed. Normally, the presumption with respect to an Order in Council is that, unless it contains something else than it otherwise means, it deals with future contingencies and does not nullify or affect existing rights and responsibilities or acquired rights or obligations already acquired under legislation, although this also does not mean that it does not affect an existing right. Where an act expressly provides that it is deemed to have effect at an earlier date, it has retroactive effect. It then affects existing rights and obligations and must be interpreted as removing, impairing or limiting an acquired right acquired under applicable law. For an order to have retroactive effect, the legislator must express it expressly, clearly and unambiguously in the decree itself.
There is no retroactive application of a statute to interfere with an existing right or obligation, except in procedural matters, unless that effect can be avoided without violating the wording of the order. If the decree is expressed in a language that allows both interpretations, it must be interpreted prospectively. Young v. Adams emphasized that a law should not be applied retroactively unless the intent to do so is clear and unambiguous. However, it does not seem likely that Parliament intends to extinguish rights and interests that may have arisen through retroactive legislation. The retroactive measure should not be favoured unless Parliament clearly and unambiguously authorizes something that is physically incompatible with the existence of an existing right and a law should not be construed as having a greater retroactive interference than its wording requires, since the retroactive measure may be partial and incomplete in some parts of the text. In Smt. Dayawati v. Inderjit was noted: “Now, it can generally be accepted that an appellate court cannot normally take into account a new law created after the judgment under appeal, because the rights of the parties in an appeal proceeding are determined by the law in force at the time the action was brought. Even before the days of Coca-Cola, whose maxim – a new law should be prospective and not retroactive in its application – is not cited, the courts viewed with dissatisfaction laws that suppress acquired rights or affect ongoing proceedings. However, the procedural issues are different and procedural law is always retroactive. But this does not mean that there is an absolute rule of the inviolability of substantive rights.
If the new law is expressed in a language which expressly or with a clear intention also covers the pending issues, both the court of first instance and the court of appeal must take into account an intention so expressed, and the court of appeal may adopt such a law even after the judgment of the court of first instance. » Criminal Law: Article 20 of the Indian Constitution is divided into two parts. According to Part I, no one may be convicted of a criminal offence, except for violation of the “law in force” at the time the act was committed. A person must be found guilty of violating any applicable law if the accused act is committed. A subsequent law that constitutes a previously committed act as a criminal offence does not expose the person to liability for the violation of an applicable law if the accused act is committed. A subsequent law declaring a previous act as a criminal offence does not make the person liable. This means that if an act is not a criminal offence at the time it is committed, it cannot be a criminal offence at the time it was committed. In Prahlad Krishna v. State of Bombay, it was decided that a person was so subject to immunity from prosecution because he was tried for an act committed under a subsequent law that makes the law illegal.
In Pareed Lubha v. Nilambaram, it was held that while non-payment of the panchayat tax on the due date was not a criminal offence, the defaulting debtor could not be ordered to pay under a law adopted subsequently, even if it covered older contributions. The protection afforded by section 1 exists only against conviction or conviction for an offence under the retroactive law of the offence and not against prosecution. Under U.S. law, the prohibition also applies to court proceedings. Thus, the guarantee provided by the U.S. Constitution is broader than that of the Indian Constitution. Proceedings following proceedings other than those at the time the offence was committed or before a special court constituted after the commission of the offence may ipso facto be declared unconstitutional.