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Report No. 39

19. References to life imprisonment in Supreme Court decisions.-

Section 53 of the Indian Penal Code, which lists the punishments to which offenders are liable, has now two items reading

"Secondly.-Imprisonment for life;

Fourthly.-Imprisonment, which is of two descriptions, namely:-

(1) Rigorous, that is with hard labour;

(2) Simple.".

Juxtaposed in this fashion, the two items immediately give rise to the question to which description, rigorous or simple, does imprisonment for life belong or is it of a different third description. The question has not been raised in a direct form before the Supreme Court. In one case,1 while setting aside an acquittal on a murder charge by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court decided-

"We consider that the ends of justice would be met if we sentence the accused to rigorous imprisonment for life.".

In another case,2 where the High Court of Bombay had sentenced the accused rigorous imprisonment for life, the Supreme Court, dismissing his appeal said:-

"The conviction of the accused under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and the sentence of imprisonment for life passed on him by the High Court are correct.

In a third case3 from Punjab, the Supreme Court converted the sentence of death into one of imprisonment for life. But the question before us has not been considered by the Supreme Court in any reported case.

1. State of Madhya Pradesh v. Ahamadullah, AIR 1961 SC 998 (1002).

2. K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1962 SC 605 (608, 630), paras. 3 and 87.

3. Jai Dev v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 613 (621), para. 24.

Punishment of Imprisonment for Life under the Indian Penal Code Back

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