The lawgic of Exemplary punishment

Happy Independence Day.

Lazy Sunday morning. You know in Philippines, if a national holiday falls on a day which is already a holiday. Then the next working day is a holiday! So if in India this rule was followed, Monday would have been a holiday!! No such luck.

Anyways. Times of India reported that the Prime minister as stating that those found guilty of corruption in organising the Common Wealth Games will be given Exemplary punishment.

Exemplary? Like what? Life sentence? Chop off hands? Declare them Persona-non-grata? Seize their property? Something even more exemplary? The really interesting part is – no punishment can be given to the guilty than what the law already say. That’s the topic of my present Blog.

In criminal law, one of the most basic principles is that no person can be punished for an act, which at the time of commission of the said act, was legal. E.g. To take an extreme example, if it becomes illegal to write a blog from tomorrow onwards, I cannot be punished for a blog that I wrote today, yesterday or even before that. Similarly for tax evasion. And in the present case, similarly for corruption.

Any person found guilty will be punished under the existing laws. If the law says that the punishment would be exemplary, it would be. If the law is lenient, there is nothing anybody could do about it.

“Lawgically” the punishment must already be existing before the act has been committed.


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