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Supreme Court judgment on ‘no further punishment after life sentence’

Karnataka: The Supreme Court has said that a Karnataka trial court judge’s order directing a convict to serve another 10 years in jail after completing his life sentence was ‘irrational’. After the trial judge’s statement, the top court mulled over his meaning. According to the Bench, life imprisonment often means imprisonment till death.

In their legal opinion, Justice Lalit, accompanied by Justice Rastogi, said it would have been logical for the trial court to have ordered the prisoner to serve the 10 years before the start of his life sentence. Convicted criminals should serve their prison sentences for all crimes concurrently, once they are sentenced to life. According to the top court, that is the law.  The matter was an appeal filed by convicted criminal Imran Jalal, through senior advocate Siddharth Dave.

Imran Jalal was sentenced to life in prison on three counts and to 10 years in prison on five other counts. It was the trial court’s decision to order Jalal to serve a decade of a life sentence under the Explosives Substances Act, after he finished his life sentence, that bothered Mr. Dave, leading him to file an appeal.

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‘It is a well-established legal principle that an individual sentenced to life imprisonment is sent to prison for the remainder of his or her life unless the competent authority commutes or remits the remaining sentence… Humans and all other living beings have but one life to live, so to order them to undergo two life sentences would be anomalous and irrational,’ Mr. Dave argued, citing decisions from the top court in the past.

The bench agreed with the senior lawyer’s contention regarding the finite nature of life, saying, ‘Once the prisoner has spent his life behind bars, further punishment is not possible’.


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