Life imprisonment means 30 years in jail: SC

Staff Correspondent

2 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The Supreme Court in a landmark judgement has defined life imprisonment as 30 years in jail to remove any confusion among the legal experts and litigants.

Life imprisonment will be taken for granted 30 years in jail unless the imprisonment period is mentioned by the court concerned in its verdict, the court said.

A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the verdict on Tuesday by majority view following a review petition filed by a convict Ataur Mridha.

The apex court did not mention the names of its justices who handed down the dissent judgment.

In case of 30 years in jail, the convict will get remission and deduction benefits under relevant sections of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the court added.

If the courts concerned, including the International Crimes Tribunal, sentence a convict to imprisonment for life until his/her natural death, such convicts are not entitled to get benefits under the Penal Code and CrPC, the court observed.

"Imprisonment for life prima facie means the whole of the remaining period of the convict's natural life. Life imprisonment will be deemed equivalent to imprisonment for 30 years if sections 45 and 53 are read together along with sections 55 and 57 of the Penal Code and 35A of the Code of Criminal Procedure."

However, in case of sentencing a convict to imprisonment for life till natural death under International Crimes Tribunals Act, 1973, the convict will not be entitled to get the benefit of section 35A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the SC said in the short verdict.

Earlier, on February 14, 2017, the SC commuted capital punishment of Ataur to life imprisonment in a murder case.

A bench headed by then Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha said life imprisonment means jail sentence until natural death.

Later, Ataur filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking definition of life imprisonment and tenure of sentence.

Quoting Section 57 of the Penal Code which, the petitioner said life sentence refers to 30 years' prison term, which becomes 22.5 years after seven-and-a-half years' remission.

Before pronouncing the judgment, the apex court took opinion of four amici curiae senior judges—former Attorney General AF Hassan Ariff, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, noted criminal lawyer Abdur Rezak Khan and incumbent Attorney General AM Aminuddin in this regard.

Senior lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain and Mohammad Shishir Manir appeared for the petitioner while Attorney General AM Amin Uddin stood for the state.