Eminent criminal law expert Khandker Mahbub Hossain yesterday told the Supreme Court that 5,209 prisoners, who have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, do not know how long they will have to serve in jails, although life sentence refers to 30 years’ prison term as per law.
They will have to wait to know the duration of their sentence until the review petition regarding the meaning and tenure of a convict’s life imprisonment is settled by the apex court, the jurist said.
He was placing arguments before a seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, during hearing of the petition, filed by one Ataur Mridha.
Mridha challenged an apex court verdict that on February 14, 2017 commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment in a murder case. The Appellate Division bench headed by the then Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha at the time said life imprisonment means jail sentence until natural death of the convict. Mridha submitted the petition to the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgment the same year.
Mahbub told the SC under Section 57 of the Penal Code, life sentence refers to 30 years’ prison term, which becomes 22.5 years after the seven-and-a-half years’ remission, adding that the rules of the law cannot be cancelled by any judgement.
Earlier, the SC appointed four eminent jurists -- Advocate AS Hasan Ariff, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, Advocate Abdur Rezak Khan and Advocate AM Aminudin -- as amicus curiae (friends of the court). They are expected to place their expert opinions on the meaning and tenure of a convict’s life imprisonment before the court on May 16, the next date for hearing.