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SC agrees to hear plea that sought to know whether life sentence would mean entire life

In his plea filed through advocate Rishi Malhotra, Jha said he has been convicted for the offences under sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code.

He said the Delhi High Court had earlier commuted the death sentence awarded to him by a trial court and converted it to life imprisonment but with a rider that sentence of life imprisonment would mean full term of life of the petitioner.

“It is pertinent to mention here that section 302 of IPC expressly mentioned two punishments i.e., one is punishment of death and second is imprisonment for life. It does not mention any other punishment apart from these two,” the plea said.

“It is submitted that legislature has not intended consciously to amend the section 302 of IPC and add the till natural life instead of only life. Therefore, the law does not contemplate that life means natural only,” it said.

The plea said if imprisonment for life is construed till natural life, then it violates the fundamental right of a convicted person.

It said imposition of imprisonment till natural life for the offence of murder was unconstitutional for the reason that it completely snatches the chance of reformation of an individual and violates remission policy and rules prescribed by state governments.

“It is also pertinent to mention here that remission of an individual is a statutory right under section 432 of CrPC. Sentencing is a judicial exercise of power,” the plea said.

It said the sentence awarded by the high court to the petitioner was completely not justifiable.

“The main issue raised before this court is as to whether the specification of ‘life sentence’ would mean till the whole life or can it be commuted or remitted by way of remission powers under section 432 of CrPC,” the plea said.

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