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Life Imprisonment Without Remission Till Last Breath Can Be Imposed As Substitution Of Death Sentence: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
11 Feb 2022 4:02 PM GMT
Life Imprisonment Without Remission Till Last Breath Can Be Imposed As Substitution Of Death Sentence: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that life imprisonment without any remission till the last breath can be imposed as a substitution of death sentence.The bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh rejected an argument raised in a case that the minority view in Union of India vs. V. Sriharan - (2016) 7 SCC 1 should be looked into as two of the Judges opined one way in the...

The Supreme Court observed that life imprisonment without any remission till the last breath can be imposed as a substitution of death sentence.

The bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh rejected an argument raised in a case that the minority view in Union of India vs. V. Sriharan - (2016) 7 SCC 1 should be looked into as two of the Judges opined one way in the Constitution Bench.

"Once the majority opines in a particular matter, that is the judgment of the Constitution Bench which says that there can be imposition of life imprisonment without any remission till the last breath as a substitution of death sentence. We thus, reject that argument", the court said while considering a writ petition filed by one Ravindra.

However, the court issued notice in the writ petition on the limited issue of juvenility.

What Constitution Bench held in V. Sriharan case?

Two issues considered by the Constitution bench in V. Sriharan case were these: (1) Whether imprisonment for life in terms of Section 53 read with Section 45 of the Penal Code meant imprisonment for rest of the life of the prisoner or a convict undergoing life imprisonment has a right to claim remission and (2) whether  a special category of sentence may be made for the very few cases where the death penalty might be substituted by the punishment of imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of fourteen years and to put that category beyond application of remission.?

The majority (3:2) (Justices H.L. Dattu (then CJI), Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Pinaki Chandra Ghose answered these issues as (1) Imprisonment for life in terms of Section 53 read with Section 45 of the Penal Code only means imprisonment for rest of life of the convict. The right to claim remission, commutation, reprieve etc. as provided under Article 72 or Article 161 of the Constitution will always be available being Constitutional Remedies untouchable by the Court. (2) The ratio laid down in Swamy Shraddananda v. State of Karnataka that a special category of sentence; instead of death can be substituted by the punishment of imprisonment for life or for a term exceeding 14 years and put that category beyond application of remission is well-founded.

Justice UU Lalit, with whom Justice AM Sapre agreed with, opined that it would not be open to the Court to make any special category of sentence in substitution of death penalty and put that category beyond application of remission, nor would it be permissible to stipulate any mandatory period of actual imprisonment inconsistent with the one prescribed under Section 433A of Cr. P.C.

Case name: Ravindra vs Union of India

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 156

Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh

Case no.|date: WP (Crl) 45/2022 | 11 Feb 2022

Caselaw

Law of Precedent - Constitution Bench Judgment - Once the majority opines in a particular matter, that is the judgment of the Constitution Bench. (Para 3)

Constitution of India, 1950 - Article 72 and 161 - Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 - Section 432, 433 and 433A - Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Section 45 and 53 - There can be imposition of life imprisonment without any remission till the last breath as a substitution of death sentence. (Para 3)

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