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Awarding life imprisonment without remission not within the powers: Punjab and Haryana High Court

While awarding the Petitioner the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life could not have added that riders that it should be for the rest of her natural life or that she would not be entitled to any remission held by Hon’ble Justice S.Muralidhar in Savitri V. State of Haryana [CRWP-5238-2020(O&M)]. Awarding life imprisonment with deprivation of remissions of the sentence or of parole is not within the power of a Trial Court.

The Hon’ble court relied on the law laid down by the Hon’ble Apex court in Union of India Vs. V. Sriharan (2016 1 SCC 1), where the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “the power to impose a modified punishment providing for any specific term of incarceration or till the end of the convict’s life as an alternative to the death penalty, can be exercised only by the High court and the Supreme Court and not by any inferior Court. “

 The Hon’ble High Court went on to further observe that “the judgement of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in V. Sriharan, it is not open to a court inferior to the High Court and Supreme Court while awarding a sentence of life imprisonment under the Indian Penal Code to further provide for any specific term of incarceration or till the end of a convict’s life or to direct that there shall be no remission as an alternate to the death penalty. That power is available only with the High courts and the Supreme Court. Consequently, the trial court, in the instant case, while awarding the petitioner the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life could not have added to the riders that it should be for the rest of her natural life or that she would not be entitled to any remission.”

The Hon’ble court also noted that despite the clear legal position explained in the V. Sriharan case the trial courts have been adding riders to orders on sentence passed by them and directed that the soft copy of the judgement in the present case with that of judgement in V. Sriharan case be circulated by the Chandigarh Judicial Academy to all the Judicial Officers and Jail authorities in States of Punjab and Haryana.

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