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Retrospective Law

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HomeBrud.gifJurisprudenceBrud.gifRetrospective Law

It is the law which looks backward or contemplates the past; one which is made to affect acts or facts occurring, or rights accruing, before it came into force. Every statute which takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under existing laws, or creates a new obligation, imposes a new duty, or attaches a new disability in respect to transactions or considerations already past.

When rules are made retrospective in effect, there should be some nexus or relationship between the rule and making it retrospective.

Retrospective operation of delegated legislation

Law (rules and regulations) that came into force by way of Delegated legislation can be retrospective provided the parent act allowed it expressively or by necessary implication. In some cases, the power to pass retrospective law flows from the legislation itself.

Mere implication of authority to pass retrospective law is not sufficient. The authority passing such law must be able to show that it has sufficient, reasonable and rational justifications for applying the rules retrospectively.

Other details

  • Retrospective laws divesting vested rights are impolitic and unjust; but they are not "ex post facto laws," within the meaning of the constitution of the United States, nor repugnant to any other of its provisions; and, if not repugnant to the state constitution, a court cannot pronounce them to be void, merely because in their judgment they are contrary to the principles of natural justice. Albee v. May, 2 Paine, 74 Fed.Cas.No.134.
  • Vested Rights are those rights which generally cannot be interfered with retrospective law.
  • Retrospective laws which do not impair the obligation of contracts, or affect vested rights, or partake of the character of ex post facto laws, are not prohibited by the constitution. Bay v. Gage, 36 Barb., N.Y., 447.

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Law

  • Clearwater Tp. v. Board of Sup'rs of Kalkaska County, 187 Mich. 516, 153 N.W. 824, 826
  • People ex rel. Albright v. Board of Trustees of Firemen's Pension Fund of and for City and County of Denver, Colo., 103 Colo. 1, 82 P.2d 765, 771, 118 A.L.R. 984
  • Raj Soni v Air Officer, Incharge Admn, (1990) 3 SCC 261: Rules should not be given retrospective operation unless such a power has been expressly conferred by the parent act, as they may prejudicially affected the vested rights of the person. i.e Existing right of a person that was vested cannot be divested.
  • Vice-Chancellor, M D University, Rohtak v Jahan Singh, (2007) 5 SCC 77: If law does not provide for it, administrative authority cannot give delegated legislation any retrospective effect.

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