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Life term means 30yrs in jail if not mentioned ‘unto death’

Published : Wednesday, 2 December, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 180

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Tuesday in a verdict said life imprisonment meant a convict would have to spend 30 years in jail as per the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
But if a court in its judgment mentions 'life-term imprisonment unto death' then the convict has to spend his entire life in prison.
However, in the case of sentence awarded to a convict for imprisonment for life till his natural death by a court, tribunal, International Crimes Tribunal under International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973, the convict will not be entitled to get the benefit of section 35A of the CrPC and the sentence would not be reduced as per the jail code, said the apex court.
A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain delivered the verdict by majority decision disposing of a review petition filed by a convict, Ataur Rahman Mridha.
The full bench of the SC said, the Criminal Review Petition No 82 of 2017 was     disposed of by the majority with the following short order - imprisonment for life prima facie means the whole of the remaining period of the convict's natural life.
"Imprisonment for life 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."
Ataur Rahman Mridha, in his petition, sought the review of February 14 in 2017 Supreme Court ruling that said life imprisonment implied a jail term for the convict's entire life in jail, not 30 years.
On November 24, the Appellate Division fixed December 1 for delivering its verdict on the review petition filed against its interpretation of a convict's life imprisonment tenure.
The Appellate Division on July 11 concluded hearing on an appeal seeking review 'on life term means until death' and kept it in CAV (curia advisari vult, which means reserving the verdict for a later time).
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin represented for the state while senior lawyer Khandaker Mahbub Hossain along with lawyer Mohammed Shishir Manir and Md Asad Uddin argued for the review petitioner in the court.
Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, a lawyer of the petitioner told the journalist that as per the verdict petitioner Ataur will have to serve in jail till his death as the Appellate Division commuted death sentence to life term imprisonment when the convict along with two others challenged the High Court verdict.
In the case, the SC heard senior lawyers Rokanuddin Mahmud, AF Hassan Ariff, Abdur Rezak Khan and AM Amin Uddin, now Attorney General, as amici curiae over the issue.
All but Rokanuddin submitted that imprisonment for life meant convicts' 30 years in jail, according to the penal code.
During the hearing on November 24, AM Amin Uddin as the successor of the late attorney general Mahbubey Alam adopted the contention that imprisonment means convicts jail until his death.
Senior lawyers Khandker Mahbub Hossain and Munsurul Hoque Chowdhury, who appeared for the convict, argued that the definition of life term imprisonment cannot be changed until the penal code is amended.
After the verdict, petitioner lawyer Mohammed Shishir Manir said according to the CrPC, life term imprisonment will be considered as 30 years and if any court delivers its judgment mentioning life term imprisonment until death, then the accused will not get any benefit from the order.
The convicts, who are convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the courts will have to serve in jail for 30 years and they will get remission for seven and a half years and the tenures they have already served in jail will be deducted from the 30 years' jail sentence, said Shishir Manir.
Ataur Mridha filed the review petition challenging an apex court verdict that 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 that time said life imprisonment meant jail sentence until natural death of the convict.
Ataur Mridha submitted the petition to the SC seeking review of its judgment the same year.
He said, in the review petition, that 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.
On October 15 in 2003, the trial court awarded death sentences to three accused including Ataur Mridha for killing Zaman in Ashulia on December 16 in 2001. Zaman was shot to death as gunmen triggered seven bullets on his chest.

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