(1) 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, nor 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.

 

(2) No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.

 

(3) No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Debate Summary

Article 14, Draft Constitution of India 1948

(1) 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, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law at the time of the commission of the offence.

(2) No person shall be punished for the same offence more than once.

(3) No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

The first clause of the Draft Article 14 barred the state from applying laws retrospectively: If the state enacts a law that makes a particular act an offence, individuals who committed the act before the enactment of the law cannot be charged. The second and third clauses are self-explanatory.

The Constituent Assembly debated Draft Article 14 on the 2nd, 3rd and 5th December 1948. Three key amendments were moved to the Article.

The first proposed to replace the phrase ‘law’ with ‘laws in force’. It was reasoned that both terms had different meanings given to them by another article of the Constitution (Draft Article) and it was best to adopt the latter.

The second wanted to include a new clause that protected individuals against ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’. This type of a provision on civil liberties, it was pointed out, could be found in the American and German Constitutions.

The third amendment added ‘prosecuted and’ before ‘punished’.  It was argued that if a government official was dealt with for act departmentally, he should not be prosecuted by the Courts as well for the same act, and vice versa.

The Assembly was in agreement over the first and third amendments and these were passed.

The second amendment too received support, however, when it came to voting, the Assembly rejected the amendment.