D. Falshaw, J.
1. This case has been referred by the Additional District Magistrate at Dharamsala.
2. The facts are that four persons, Ram Rattan Managing Director, Khazana Ram Contractor, K. N. Khanna Agent, and Gomti Das Manager of a state mine known as Naguni State Mine owned and worked by the Kangra Valley Slate Company Limited, were prosecuted on the allegation that they had wilfully omitted to take the precautions laid down in Regulations Nos. 38, 41 and 91 of the Indian Metalliferous Mines Regulations of 1926 is a result of which a workman received fatal injuries on the 24th of April, 1956, the complaint being filed by the Public Prosecutor, Dharamsala, under the instructions of the Chief Inspector of Mines in India.
3. The preliminary objection was raised that the above regulations of 1926 were framed under the provisions of Section 29 of the Indian Mines Act of 1923, which had been repealed and replaced by the Indian Mines Act of 1952 under which admittedly no fresh rules and regulations had yet been framed when this case started. It was contended that the prosecution of the accused violated the provisions of Article 20(1) of the Constitution which provides that no person should 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.
The point taken was that the rules and regulations framed under the Act of 1923 were no longer 'a law in force' at the time of commission of the act tried as an offence in spite of the provisions of Section 24 of the General Clauses Act, which seem to rebut this contention. The section in question reads --
'Where any Central Act or Regulation is, after the commencement of this Act, repealed and reenacted with or without modification, then, unless it is otherwise expressly provided, any appointment, notification, order, scheme, rule, form or bye-law, made or issued under the repealed Act or Regulation, shall, so far as it is not inconsistent with the provisions re-enacted, continue in force, and be deemed to have been made or issued under the provisions so re-enacted, unless and until it is superseded by any appointment, notification, order, scheme, rule, form or bye-law made or issued under the provisions so re-enacted '.
4. The learned Additional District Magistrate, Dharamsala, has referred the case for guidance on the point in dispute, without making any particular recommendation one way or the other, mainly on the strength of the decision of the Andhra High Court in In re Lingareddi Venkatareddy, AIR 1956 Andhra 24. This case also deals with a number of accused who had been prosecuted under the penal provisions of the Indian Mines Act of 1952 for breaches of the regulations framed in 1926 under Section 30 of the Act of 1923 and it was held by Subba Rao C. J. and Bhimasankaram J. that the phrase 'law in force' in Article 20 of the Constitution must be understood in its natural sense as being the law in fact in existence and in operation as distinct from the law 'deemed' to have become operative by virtue of the power of the legislature to pass retrospective laws. It was held that the rules and regulations framed under the repealed Act of 1923 could not be described as 'law in force'.
5. In arriving at this decision the learned Judges relied almost entirely on the decision of the Supreme Court in Shiv Bahadur Singh v. The State of Vindhya Pradesh, AIR 1953 SC 394, which therefore requires to be considered. In that case the accused had been tried for certain offences alleged to have been committed in February, March and April, 1949 under the provisions of the Vindhya Pradesh Ordinance No. 48 of 1949, which was enacted on the 11th of September, 1949.
It was, however, provided in Section 2 of the Ordinance that it should be deemed to have been in force in Vindhya Pradesh from the 9th of August, 1948. In other words it was retrospective criminal legislation and had the effect of making an offence out of an act which was not an offence at the time it was committed. The decision of the learned Judges is summed up in paragraph 10 thus --
' 'Law in force' referred to therein must betaken to relate not to a law 'deemed' to be in forceand thus brought into force but the law factuallyin operation at the time or what may be called thethen existing law. It cannot, therefore, be doubled that the phrase'law in force' as used in Article 20 must be understood in its natural sense as being the law in factin existence and in operation at the time of thecommission of the offence as distinct from the law'deemed' to have become operative by virtue ofthe power of legislature to pass retrospective laws.'
6. It seems to me, however, that this is a wholly different type of a case from the one with which we are dealing, and retrospective criminal legislation of this kind is generally regarded as repugnant to Fundamental principles of justice. The Mines Act of 1923 was repealed and replaced by the Mines Act of 1952 and the effect of Section 24 of the General Clauses Act in such a case is clearly that all the rules and regulations framed under the old Act, which had the force of law, were to remain in force until replaced by new rules and regulations framed under the new Act except where they were inconsistent with any provision of the new Act, and moreover were not only to remain thus in force, but also were to be deemed to have been formulated under the new Act. I fail to see how any question whatever of retrospective legislation can arise in such a case and it seems to me evident that the scope of the decision of the Supreme Court cannot be carried beyond holding that retrospective criminal legislation of the kind under consideration contravened the provisions of Article 20(1) of the Constitution.
7. This view has in fact been expressed by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in G. D. Bhattar v. The State. (S) AIR J957 Cal 483, in which the above decision of the Supreme Court and the decision of the Andhra High Court purporting to he based on it have been examined and the Andhra view has been dissented from. This, it may be said, was also a case under the Mines Act. A Full Bench of the Patna High Court also held that the rules and regulations framed under the Act of 1923 remained in force under the Act of 1952 in the absence of new rules and regulations framed under the latter Act in The State v. Kunja Behari Chandra, AIR 1954 Pat 371. There is, however, the distinction in that case that the alleged offence was committed before the new Act came into force although the case was brought after words, whereas in the present case and in the Calcutta case the alleged offences took place after the new Act had come into force.
8. In the circumstances I would return the following answer to the question referred by the learned Additional District Magistrate:
'The Indian Metalliferous Mines Regulationsof 1926 framed under Section 29 of the Indian MinesAct of 1923 continue to be law in force under Section 24of the General Clauses Act in spite of the fact thatthe Act of 1923 has been repealed and replacedby the Indian Mines Act of 1952 unless and untilthey are replaced by new regulations framed underthe new Act so far as they are not inconsistentwith any provision of the new Act.'