The Supreme Court today released the full text of its verdict on two appeals against a 2007 High Court judgement, saying that life imprisonment means jail sentence for rest of the life of the convict.
“Life imprisonment within the meaning of Section 53 read with Section 45 of the Penal Code means imprisonment for rest of the life of the convict,” the Appellate Division of the SC said.
According to the Section 57 of the Penal Code, in calculating fractions of terms of punishment, imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to rigorous imprisonment for thirty years.
The SC explained its opinion in the full verdict saying that, “Section 57 of the Penal Code is only for the purpose of working out the fractions of the maximum sentence fixed for the principal offence, that is to say, if such provision is not made, it would have been impossible to work out the fractions of an indefinite term”.
The apex court on February 14 delivered the short verdict on the appeals of two convicts-- Ataur Mridha and Anwar Hossain-- who were sentenced to death by a lower court in a case filed for killing one Jamal in Savar in 2001.
The High Court later upheld the punishment of the two-- Ataur and Anwar.
A four-member Appellate Division bench headed by Justice Sinha commuted their death sentence to life term, but observed it meant imprisonment until natural death.
The SC judges in the full judgment today said, “A sentence of death awarded to an offender under Section 302 of the Penal Code is the rule and life imprisonment is an exception. The court may commute death sentence to life imprisonment of a prisoner on extenuating circumstances and in that case it must assign reasons therefore”, it observed.
The apex court said, “If the High Court Division or this court commutes a sentence of death to imprisonment for life and directs that the prisoner shall have to suffer rest of his natural life, such type of cases would be beyond the application of remission”.
“In exercise of power under article 49 of the constitution, the President has the power to grant pardon, reprieves and respite and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence even after the commutation of sentence by this court or the High Court Division,” the SC judges said.
“The appeal, is therefore, dismissed with commutation of the sentence of the appellants to imprisonment for rest of the life. Let a copy of this judgment be communicated to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Prisons for information and taking steps in respect of life sentence prisoners” they added.