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SC to determine duration of life imprisonment sentence

30 July, 2019

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The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday formed a larger bench to determine the duration of life imprisonment sentence. During the proceedings, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa issued notices to attorney general, provincial advocate generals and prosecutors and directed the registrar office to fix the case for hearing in the first week of October.

The direction came during the hearing of a petition submitted by Haroonul Rashid pleading the court to reduce his life sentence into half.

Rashid was sentenced to life imprisonment 12 times in 12 different cases of murder. He has been in jail since 1997 and has served a 22-year sentence, Rashid’s lawyer told the court while adding that the court has allowed for the 12 sentences to be served concurrently.

Section 57 of the Pakistan Penal Code [fractions of terms of punishment] states, “In calculating fractions of terms of punishment, imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for twenty-five years.” However, in practice, convicts sentenced to life usually secure their release after 12 to 14 years.

“How can we cut short the sentence period to half when we don’t know how long the convict is going to live?” the chief justice remarked. “For a long time, I have been waiting for such a case so as to determine the time period of the life imprisonment,” he said. “In a jail sentence, days and nights are both counted. In this manner, a convict comes out within five years,” he continued. “It is the time that we clear up these major misconceptions and figure out the span of a life sentence. It is a matter of public interest,” he added.

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