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Dhaka Tribune

Supreme Court: Tenure of life imprisonment 30 years

However, the convict will not be entitled to that if he/she is jailed for life till natural death

Update : 01 Dec 2020, 10:52 AM

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has delivered a judgement saying a convict awarded life imprisonment has to serve 30 years in jail. 

However, if any court delivers its judgment mentioning "life term imprisonment unto death" in its verdict, it will be followed by the court verdict.

A full bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain on Tuesday made the judgement on a review petition involving the dispute over the meaning and tenure of a convict's life imprisonment.

The seven-member 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."

On November 24, the Appellate Division set Tuesday for delivering its judgement after concluding rehearing on the review petition filed by a convict -- Ataur Rahman Mridha.

Advocate Khandker Mahbub Hossain and Mohammad Shishir Monir appeared for the petitioner while Attorney General AM Amin Uddin represented the state.

Senior lawyer Khandker Mahbub told Dhaka Tribune that the law stipulates 30 years' jail term if a convict is handed down imprisonment for life.

However, the jail term might be reduced to 22 years and a half if he/she is granted exemption. 

Earlier, the apex court heard expert opinions from four amicus curiae -- AF Hassan Ariff, Rokanuddin Mahmud, Abdur Rezak Khan, and AM Amin Uddin, now attorney general, over the issue.

On October 15, 2003, a tribunal in Dhaka sentenced three people, including Ataur Mridha and Anwar 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 the death sentence of Ataur and Anwar to life imprisonment. Ataur challenged the apex court verdict and submitted a petition to the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgment.

On July 11, 2019, the Appellate Division concluded hearing of the review petition and said that judgement would be delivered any day.

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