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Report No. 60

7.7. Provision in Bill of 1897.-

It may be mentioned here that a provision on this subject was made in the General Clauses Bill, 1897, as originally introduced,1 but it was dropped at the Select Committee stage.2

In deleting the provision, the Select Committee observed:-

"It may be that without any provision it would be held that the effect is the same when an enactment expires as and when it is repealed; but, on the other hand, it is conceivable that there might be cases in which, for example, it would be better not to allow a person to be proceeded against after the expiry of a temporary and possibly very stringent enactment, although he acted in contravention of it during the period for which it was expressed to endure."

With respect, we do not think that the reasons given by the Select Committee of 1897, quoted above for the deletion of the provision, are sound. The first assumption in the Committee's observations, equating the repeal of an enactment with its expiry, has not been accepted either in Indian3 or in English4 law. The second proposition, referring to some 'very stringent' enactments, seeks to make an exceptional case the basis for a general rule. We find it difficult to conceive of cases where the legislation would intend and provide that an offence committed against the temporary law may cease to be punishable on its expiry. On principle, even if a law is stringent, an offence committed during its operation should be punished even after its expiry.

1. See Clause 6(2), General Clauses Bill, 1897, Gazette of India, Pt. V, pp. 25, 37, dated 6th February, 1897 and Notes, pp. 38, 40.

2. Report of the Select Committee, Gazette of India, Pt. V, pp. 77, 78, dated 6th March, 1897.

3. See para. 7.8, infra.

4. See para. 7.9, infra.

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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