Life imprisonment means jail term for entire life: SC

Life imprisonment

Life imprisonment implies a jail term for the convict's entire life, the Supreme Court has held, clearing a misconception on this sentence.

The apex court also said that its Constitution bench's landmark judgement of 1980 on criterion for imposing death penalty needs a "fresh look" as there has been "no uniformity" in following its principles on what constitutes "the rarest of rare" cases.

"It appears to us there is a misconception that a prisoner serving a life sentence has an indefeasible right to be released on completion of either fourteen years or twenty years imprisonment. The prisoner has no such right.

"A convict undergoing life imprisonment is expected to remain in custody till the end of his life, subject to any remission granted by the appropriate government," a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Madan B Lokur said.

The bench, however, clarified that under remission the appropriate government cannot reduce the period of sentence less than 14 years for a life convict.

"In the case of a convict undergoing life imprisonment, he will be in custody for an indeterminate period. Therefore, remissions earned by or awarded to such a life convict are only notional. In his case, to reduce the period of incarceration, a specific order under Section 432 of the CrPC will have to be passed by the appropriate government. However, the reduced period cannot be less than 14 years as per Section 433-A of the CrPC," the apex court said.

The apex court order also seeks to put an end to the practice of en-masse release of the convicts by various governments on "festive" occasions and said each release requires a case-by-case basis scrutiny.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.