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SC intends to define life term afresh

By Our Staff Reporter 2019-07-30
ISLAMABAD: What should be the length of life imprisonment: 25 years of incarceration or being behind bars for life. The Supreme Court now intends to settle this question once and for all.

The issue caught the attention of the Supreme Court when Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa took up a case known as Haroon Rashid versus the state. Other members of the bench were Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmad.

The petitioner was awarded life imprisonment 12 times in as many cases ofmurder and the question before the court was to determine whether the punishment should run consecutively or concurrently.

Haroon Rashid has been in jail since 1997 and has served a 22-year sentence.

According to his lawyer, the court had allowed that the 12 sentences can run concurrently.

Section 57 of the Pakistan Penal Code suggests that while calculating the terms of punishment, imprisonment for life should be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for 25 years.

`We have been waiting for such a case for quite some time in which we should determine the length regarding the life imprisonment,` observed the chief justice and ordered constitudon of a larger bench to resolve the matter for all times to come.

The chief justice observed that the current interpretation of life imprisonment law was flawed and while referring to judicial practice in India, he remarked that life sentences awarded there specify the period of imprisonment.

It is a misconception that a life sentence spans 25 years since days and nights are counted separately and a convict walks free af ter a few years.

`When we don`t know how long a person is going to live, how can we halve a life sentence,` the chief justice wondered. `It is time that we clear the ambiguity and determine what should be the real span of a life sentence.

Later the Supreme Court issued notices to Attorney General Anwar Mansoor, provincial advocate generals and prosecutor generals of the provinces.

The court issued a directive to the registrar`s office to bring up the matter for hearing during the first week of October.