Sunday, 3 November 2019

Supreme Court:Amendment In Criminal Laws Beneficial To Accused Can Be Applied In Pending/Earlier Cases

We have considered the respective submissions. In
Criminal Appeal No.214 of 2006, this Court relied on a
decision in T. Barai Vs. Henry Ah Hoe and Another [(1983)
1 SCC 177] wherein it was opined that since the amendment
was beneficial to the accused persons, it could be
applied with respect to earlier cases as well which are
pending in the Court observing:
“22. It is only retroactive criminal
legislation that is prohibited under
Article 20(1). The prohibition contained
in Article 20(1) is that no person shall
be convicted of any offence except for
violation of a law in force at the time
of the commission of the act charged as
an offence prohibits nor shall he be
subjected to a penalty greater than that
which might have been inflicted under the
law in force at the time of the
commission of the offence. It is quite
clear that insofar as the Central
Amendment Act creates new offences or
enhances punishment for a particular type
of offence no person can be convicted by
such ex post facto law nor can the
enhanced punishment prescribed by the
amendment be applicable. But insofar as
the Central Amendment Act reduces the
punishment for an offence punishable

under Section 16(1)(a) of the Act, there
is no reason why the accused should not
have the benefit of such reduced
punishment. The rule of beneficial
construction requires that even ex post
facto law of such a type should be
applied to mitigate the rigour of the
law. The principle is based both on sound
reason and common sense. 
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1831 OF 2010

TRILOK CHAND  Vs  STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH 

Dated:October 01, 2019


The appellant assails his conviction under Section
16(1)(a)(i) read with Section 7 of the Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act, 1954 (for short “the Act”) sentencing
him to three months’ imprisonment along with fine of
Rs.500/-.
The Food Inspector visited the shop of the appellant
and purchased three packets of rewari weighing 3 x 700
gms each on payment of Rs.60/- for which receipt was
granted. The necessary formalities were thereafter
complied with by the Food Inspector. The sample along
with Form VI was sent to the public analyst who opined
that the product was misbranded within the meaning of
Section 2(ix)(k) punishable under the Act.
The appellant assailed his conviction unsuccessfully
in appeal and his revision too has been dismissed by the
High Court.
Learned counsel for the appellant made a very short
submission before us relying on an order dated 10.03.2016

in Criminal Appeal No.214 of 2006. He submits that under
Sections 51 and 52 of the Food Safety and Standards Act,
2006, the maximum penalty for sub-standard food or
branding is only fine. He, therefore, submits that the
conviction may be set aside on that ground.
Learned counsel for the State has opposed the appeal
submitting that there are concurrent findings of
misbranding in accordance with the law, as it then stood
on the date of occurrence.
We have considered the respective submissions. In
Criminal Appeal No.214 of 2006, this Court relied on a
decision in T. Barai Vs. Henry Ah Hoe and Another [(1983)
1 SCC 177] wherein it was opined that since the amendment
was beneficial to the accused persons, it could be
applied with respect to earlier cases as well which are
pending in the Court observing:
“22. It is only retroactive criminal
legislation that is prohibited under
Article 20(1). The prohibition contained
in Article 20(1) is that no person shall
be convicted of any offence except for
violation of a law in force at the time
of the commission of the act charged as
an offence prohibits nor shall he be
subjected to a penalty greater than that
which might have been inflicted under the
law in force at the time of the
commission of the offence. It is quite
clear that insofar as the Central
Amendment Act creates new offences or
enhances punishment for a particular type
of offence no person can be convicted by
such ex post facto law nor can the
enhanced punishment prescribed by the
amendment be applicable. But insofar as
the Central Amendment Act reduces the
punishment for an offence punishable

under Section 16(1)(a) of the Act, there
is no reason why the accused should not
have the benefit of such reduced
punishment. The rule of beneficial
construction requires that even ex post
facto law of such a type should be
applied to mitigate the rigour of the
law. The principle is based both on sound
reason and common sense. This finds
support in the following passage from
Craies on Statute Law, 7 th Edn., at pp.
388-89:
A retrospective statute is different
from an ex post facto statute. “Every
ex post facto law....” said Chase,
J., in the American case of Calder v.
Bull “must necessarily be
retrospective, but every
retrospective law is not an ex post
facto law. Every law that takes away
or impairs rights vested agreeably to
existing laws is retrospective, and
is generally unjust and may be
oppressive; it is a good general rule
that a law should have no retrospect,
but in cases in which the laws may
justly and for the benefit of the
community and also of individuals
relate to a time antecedent to their
commencement: as statutes of oblivion
or of pardon. They are certainly
retrospective, and literally both
concerning and after the facts
committed. But I do not consider any
law ex post facto within the
prohibition that mollifies the rigour
of the criminal law, but only those
that create or aggravate the crime,
or increase the punishment or change
the rules of evidence for the purpose
of conviction.... There is a great
and apparent difference between
making an unlawful act lawful and the
making an innocent action criminal
and punishing it as a crime.”
In view of the same, the present appeal is allowed in
part and the sentence imposed upon the appellant is
modified by imposing a fine of Rs.5,000/- only, which

shall be deposited within 30 days before the Trial Court.
On deposit of the amount, the bail bonds of the appellant
shall stand discharged.
................................J.
[Navin Sinha]
................................J.
[Sanjiv Khanna]
New Delhi;
October 01, 2019

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