Life term means jail till death: SC

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Tuesday, September 20, 2005 at 0326 hours IST
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 19: What does life imprisonment stand for: imprisonment for life or just 14 years in prison? Clearing the air, the Supreme Court has said that it means rigorous imprisonment for the whole of the remaining period of the convict’s natural life—unless there is an order of remission by the government.

Referring to an earlier ruling by a constitution bench, a bench of Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice B N Srikrishna said, ‘‘We hold that life imprisonment is not equivalent to imprisonment for 14 years or for 20 years.’’There was no provision in the IPC or CrPC whereby life imprisonment could be treated as imprisonment for fourteen years or twenty years without there being a formal remission by the appropriate government, the court said dismissing a writ petition filed by a convict from West Bengal.

The man, who is undergoing life sentence, contended that he had already undergone more than 21 years of imprisonment and sought compensation for the ‘‘illegal detention’’ beyond 14 years. The petition was filed in 1998.

He claimed that life imprisonment meant ‘‘simple imprisonment’’ till a proper commutation order was passed by the government. The executive had converted it into ‘‘rigorous imprisonment’’ for life, he alleged.Dismissing his plea, the bench pointed out that the sentence of imprisonment for life was substituted for transportation and there was ample material to show that a person who was sentenced to transportation had always been subjected to hard labour.

Life sentences getting longer than 14 years

TNN, Dec 11, 2009, 02.03am IST

NEW DELHI: Life sentences to murder accused can no longer mean the usual 14 years in prison, as popularly understood till now.

The Supreme Court, which recently began a trend of quantifying prison term much in excess of 14 years while commuting death sentence of condemned prisoners, on Thursday awarded 25 years and 20 years in jail to two condemned prisoners while commuting their death sentences to life term.

It was a case of honour killing by the brothers of a Brahmin girl from Uttar Pradesh who fell in lovewith a Malayali boy in Mumbai. Despite threats and coercion to stop seeing the boy, she went ahead and married him.

The girl’s enraged brother first took her away from the boy’s family and later wreaked vengeance by killing her father-in-law, husband and injuring many other members of the family. The brother and his friends were arrested from UP. A Mumbai court awarded death sentence to three of the accused after convicting them for the murders. The Bombay HC confirmed the capital punishment.

A Bench comprising Justices V S Sirpurkar and Deepak Verma, in the peculiar facts of the case, could not persuade itself to award death sentence and weighed whether they be given life sentence as it ordinarily meant — 14 years in prison.

While directing that two of the accused, who after killing assaulted the female members of the family, be awarded a sentence of 25 years each, the Bench said the third accused be released from prison only after serving 20 years.

Earlier, in the case of murder accused Swamy Shradhanand aka Murli Manohar Mishra, the SC had awarded life sentence while commuting death penalty but had clarified that he would never be released from prison.

In another recent judgment, a Bench comprising Justices Sirpurkar and Verma had awarded a sentence of 35 years imprisonment to a condemned prisoner in lieu of commuting his death penalty to life sentence. In this case, the accused Haru Ghosh, while being on parole in a murder case, had committed double murder.

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