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Can Life Term be Made Tougher by Use of 'Rigorous'? Supreme Court to Decide

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether a court has the authority to provide for 'rigorous' life term when the legal provisions do not clothe courts with such powers.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:August 29, 2018, 7:58 AM IST
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Can Life Term be Made Tougher by Use of 'Rigorous'? Supreme Court to Decide
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com
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New Delhi: Can a life term be made tougher by adding the word 'rigorous' to the sentencing order?

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether a court has the authority to provide for 'rigorous' life term when the legal provisions do not clothe courts with such powers.

A bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao issued notices on an appeal moved by a convict, whose petition contended that there is no authority in law — neither in the Indian Penal Code nor in Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) — that adds the term 'rigorous' to make a life sentence sterner in punishment.

"Issue notice restricted to the question of propriety of specifying rigorous imprisonment while imposing the life sentence," said the bench in a recent order.

In cases of rigorous imprisonment, convicts are required to work in prisons as per prison manual guidelines.

A year ago, the top court dismissed a different appeal wherein these questions were raised by another convict.

By an order in July 2017, a bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit had dismissed a plea which had questioned the propriety of judicial orders in giving 'rigorous' life imprisonment.

In the previous case, some convicts from Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh had challenged the orders by high courts concerned in the murder cases.

Senior advocate Parmanand Katara, appearing for convicts in this batch of cases, had then submitted that the orders issued by the courts below were unconstitutional as penal and procedural laws do not empower them to qualify life sentence with the term ‘rigorous’.

Section 53 of the Indian Penal Code specifies punishments to which offenders are liable under the Code.

Katara argued that under the section, rigorous imprisonment is termed as imprisonment with “hard labour”. However, imprisonment for life is a separate category according to Section 53 and is not qualified by terms like 'simple' or 'rigorous'.

But the bench led by Justice Goel had dismissed the plea, saying there is no merit in the petitions.

In the fresh case where the Supreme Court has not yet issued notices, Katara happens to be the convict's lawyer yet again.​
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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