Retrospective legislation is gravely objectionable because it imposes a new complexion on events that have already taken place. A backdated law can validate illegalities or invalidate acts that were legal at that time they were committed. It can criminalize what was innocent at the time of its commission. The constitution of Malaysia does not contain a total ban on retrospective legislation. But in the interest of a fair criminal process Article 7(1) creates two safeguards against backdated criminal legislation. First, a law creating a new penal offence cannot have effect back in time. Second, if the penalty for a criminal offence is enhanced the law increasing the penalty cannot be applied retrospectively. Article 7(1) of the Federal Constitution lays down that “no person shall be punished for an act or omission which was not punishable by law when it was done or made”. This means that if Parliament creates a new criminal offence, it is prohibited from giving retrospective effect to the provision. a
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- Fall '15
- Law, Mr. Shaw, Peaceful Assembly Act, new penal offence