Life sentence means 30-year jail: Bangladesh SC

War criminals, others jailed until death won’t get benefit

M Moneruzzaman | Published: 12:56, Dec 01,2020 | Updated: 16:51, Dec 02,2020


The Appellate Division in a fresh ruling on Tuesday said that the tenure of life imprisonment would be 30 years in jail as per the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.

The ruling also said that in case a convict is sentenced by the court or tribunal, the International Crimes Tribunal to imprisonment for life till the prisoner’s natural death, the convict will not be entitled to the benefit of deduction of convict’s pre-trial custody period as required by the Section 35A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 

Attorney general AM Amin Uddin told reporters that the 30-year tenure of life imprisonment set by the Appellate Division would be applicable if the courts or tribunals sentence a convict to life time imprisonment.

If a convict is sentenced to imprisonment until death, the above tenure will not be applicable in such a case, he said.  

The seven-member full bench chaired by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain gave the interpretation in a short order about the duration of life-term imprisonment disposed of by majority  judges a petition filed by convict Ataur Mridha in February 2017.

Ataur, in his petition, sought the review of a 2017 Appellate Division Court ruling that said life imprisonment implies a jail term for the convict’s entire life in jail, not 30 years.

A four-judge bench, headed by the then chief justice SK Sinha, on February 14, 2017, ruled that life imprisonment means till convicts’ natural death in jail amid debates over the period of life imprisonment.

The Appellate Division had also commuted Ataur’s death sentence to imprisonment until his death in jail.

On October 15, 2003, the trial court awarded death sentences to Ataur, Quamrul Islam and Anwar Hossain  for killing one named Zaman in Ashulia on December 16, 2001 and the High Court in 2007 upheld their death sentences for shooting Zaman to death after he received seven bullets on his chest.

On October 15, 2003, the trial court awarded death sentences to the three for killing Zaman.

Ataur’s lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain told New Age on Tuesday that the Appellate Division’s latest decision on the tenure of life imprisonment came as the jail authorities did not allow prisoners serving life term to be released from jail even after completion of their prison terms following the Appellate Division’s previous decision.  

He said that the then chief justice SK Sinha, who was the author of the verdict delivered by the Appellate Division on September 17, 2014, commuted war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayedee’s death sentence to life imprisonment until his death in jail.

Following the verdict, Khandker Mahbub said that the international crimes tribunals trying war criminals delivered a number of verdicts sentencing war criminals to life until their death in jail.

He said that the Appellate Division and even the lower court delivered several judgements sentencing convicts to imprisonment until their death.

Mohammad Shishir Manir, who assisted his senior Khandker Mahbub in Ataur’ case told New Age that Tuesday’s judgement by the Appellate Division allows trial court judges to sentence convicts to imprisonment until their death.      

Shishir said that although the Appellate Division in the latest verdict said that life sentence meant 30-year in jail, the convicts actually could spend less than the 30 years as their pre-trial custody period would be deducted alongside remission of sentences based on their conduct.  

He said that the war criminals and other convicts, who were sentenced until their death in jail, would not get any deduction and remission on their sentences following the latest SC decision.

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