Life term means 30 years imprisonment: Appellate Division

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Dhaka, Dec 01: The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the duration of life term imprisonment will be considered as 30 years from now on.

But, if any court delivered its judgment mentioning ‘life term imprisonment unto death’ in its verdict, then it will be followed by the court verdict.

A seven-member bench, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, passed the order in the morning after disposing of a review petition.

The bench said: “The Criminal Review Petition No 82 of 2017 is disposed of by Majority with the following short order – imprisonment for life prima facie means the whole of the remaining period of the convict’s natural life.

“Imprisonment for life be deemed equivalent to imprisonment for 30 years if sections 45 and 53 are read together along with sections 55 and 57 of the Penal Code and 35A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“However, in the case of sentence awarded to the convict for imprisonment for life till his natural death by the court/tribunal, International Crimes Tribunal under International Crimes Tribunals Act, 1973, the convict will not be entitled to get the benefit of section 35A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin stood for the state while Advocate Khandakar Mahbub Hossain represented the petitioner.

Advocate Sishir Monir said that according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, life term imprisonment will be counted as 30 years and if any court delivered its judgment mentioning life term imprisonment until death, then the accused will not get any benefit from the order.

On November 24, the Appellate Division fixed December 1 for delivering its verdict on the review petition filed against its interpretation of a convict’s life imprisonment tenure.

The Appellate Division on July 11 concluded hearing on an appeal seeking review on ‘life term means until death’ and kept it in CAV (curia advisari vult, which means reserving the verdict for a later time).

Besides, senior lawyer Rokanuddin Mahmud, AF Hassan Arif, Abdur Razzak Khan, and AM Amin Uddin expressed their opinion regarding the matter as they were appointed as Amicus Curiae (legal opinion provider in court) over the matter.

On October 15, 2003, the subordinate court sentenced two siblings – Ataur Mridha alias Ataur and Anowar Hossain – to death in a murder case. Later, the High Court also upheld their death sentence on October 30, 2007.

On February 14, 2017, the Appellate Division commuted their death sentence to life term imprisonment when the convicts challenged the High Court verdict.

Meanwhile, the Appellate Division expressed a seven-point opinion stating that ‘life term imprisonment means sentence until death’.

Later, Amicus Curiae were appointed to hear the opinion of senior advocates over the matter when the review appeal was filed by the convicts.

Normally, as per the Bangladeshi law, convicted offenders of life term imprisonment have to serve in jail for 30 years.