Justice AK Ganguly is much reviled man today. Most Indians are not willing to listen to him. But he has a point, legally, when he says that he can’t be punished for an act which was not an offence at the time of its commission.
As per Article 20 (1) of the Constitution, no person shall be convicted of any offence except for the violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence.
In simple, if the legislature included the ‘act or wrong action’ allegedly committed by Justice AK Ganguly on December 24, 2013, as an offence under sexual assault law after December 24, 2013; then in that case AK Ganguly can’t be booked for that offence.
Another example will help.
Suppose, growing opium was not an offence in India before 1950 (just an example). Suppose in 1950, India enacts a law making opium cultivation a punishable offence. The law will not apply to a person who cultivated opium in his fields before the law came into force. Simply because there was no law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence. It can be a date, just a day before the date of such enforcement.
If I understood AK Ganguly’s statement in the right context (in right legal sense); then it’s important that the media convey to the people of this legal provision as well. Else, everything will become a media circus.
We may or may not be sympathetic to Justice AK Ganguly. We may or may not want the man speedily put behind the bars. But amidst all these thoughts, we must understand a thing. If the rule of law is being interpreted and implemented as per the rule book, it’s actually the victory of the common man. The legal provision may come as a saviour for a powerful man today. But the precedent it sets today, may help a common man tomorrow .
As when the lawbook is strictly followed, the common man is saved from the high handedness of the executive and the arbitrary exercise of the power by the state.
PS: On an ethical note, Justice AK Ganguly should voluntarily step down from the post of Chairman West Bengal Human Rights Commission. He should assist in any probe as well. If the girl feels that his actions amount to sexual assault, then he must not indulge in legal jugglery.