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‘Matter Of Public Interest’: Apex Court Forms Larger Bench To Determine The Span Of Life Imprisonment Sentence

Islamabad: The Supreme Court on Monday has formed a larger bench to determine the length of life imprisonment. According to Dawn, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, took notice of the issue while hearing a petition to reduce a convict’s life sentence into half.

The honorable court was hearing from convict Haroonul Rashid who was sentenced sentenced to life imprisonment 12 times and has served jail time of almsot 22 years by now.

While determinig the scope of Rashid`s sentence, the honorable Chief Justice remarked, “Is it not a misconception that a life sentence spans over 25 years?”

During the hearing, he said,”When we don’t know how long a person is going to live, how can we halve a life sentence.”

“I had been waiting for a long time for a case where we could determine the span of a life sentence. In a jail sentence, days and nights are both counted. In this manner, a convict comes out within five years.”It is time that we clear up these major misconceptions and figure out the span of a life sentence. It is a matter of public interest,” remarked Justice Khosa.

Rashid`s hearing was followed by notices sent to attorney general, provincial advocate generals and prosecutor general to determine the scope of life imprisonment sentence.

It is pertinent to mention that Section 57 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Fractions of terms of punishment, says: “In calculating fractions of terms of punishment, imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for twenty-five years.”

The Supreme Court, however in a 2004 ruling observed that that the provisions of the aforementioned section, which terms 25-year imprisonment as transportation for life, only stipulate the calculation of the punishment term. Such punishment is necessary because certain offences are a fraction of the term of imprisonment prescribed for other offences reports Dawn.

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