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A Brief Overview Of Life Imprisonment

Life imprisonment is a new penalty clause imposed by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860. It was introduced through an amendment in 1955. Life imprisonment applies to serious crimes, and in some cases, the death penalty is the only mandatory sentence under the criminal law. Compared with legal alternatives to the death penalty, life imprisonment is generally considered more humane and less harsh. There exists many misconceptions regarding life imprisonment in the society.

Some people think that life imprisonment means 14 or 20 years in prison. The truth is Life imprisonment means staying in prison until the offender dies, that is, until the offender stops breathing. After each court in the country proves guilty, the court decides to sentence the perpetrator to life imprisonment or other sentences. The Supreme Court clearly stated in its 2012 ruling that life imprisonment means life imprisonment and nothing more. In fact, life imprisonment is not 14 years.[1]

In India, there is a misunderstanding about this. There are many laws. Depending on the offenderís charge, it can be sentenced to life imprisonment, it is clear the court must punish the guilty party. But this is a matter for the state government.

The task of the national authorities is to release the accused from life imprisonment for 14 years, 20 years later or until death. In order to shorten the duration of prisoners, the competent government must issue a specific order in accordance with Art. 432 CRPC of the Constitution.

At the same time, according to Constitution 433-A of the CRPC, the state government has the right to reduce or suspend prison sentences. Regardless of the punishment, be it a few months, years, or years of life, it is at the discretion of state governments to request a reduction. The prisoner is under the supervision of the state government, which is why he was entrusted to the state government. In this case, he will be heard if the state government requests a reduction in the sentence. [2]

It should be noted that life imprisonment can be 16 years, 30 years or forever, but not less than 14 years. The state government must ensure that criminals who have been sentenced to life imprisonment are not released before the shortest 14-year imprisonment period expires. After 14 years, the state government can release the prisoner at any time based on the prisonerís behaviour, illness, family problems or other reasons. The idea that life imprisonment being thought as 14 year imprisonment is wrong. The penalty is not 14 years but rather until the prisoner breathes his last breath. In short, life imprisonment applies to the entire life.

It appears to us there is a misconception that a prisoner serving a life sentence has an indefeasible right to be released on completion of either fourteen years or twenty years imprisonment. The prisoner has no such right. A convict undergoing life imprisonment is expected to remain in custody till the end of his life, subject to any remission granted by the appropriate government, a bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Madan B. Lokur said.[3]

Purpose of Life Imprisonment
Life imprisonment has four purposes:
Punishment:
If a person commits a crime, they will be punished by the court and then imprisoned, which deprives them of their freedom and separates them from society. Punishment can turn a person into a good person, restore basic freedom and the freedom to live with relatives, and sometimes provide them with work to stop crime. Punishment is very important for the criminals.

Deterrence:
Deterrence is another way to punish criminals so that they do not become repeat offenders, because punishment can teach the criminal's values ​​and enable him to transform himself and transform him into a law-abiding citizen.

Protection:
If someone commits a serious crime such as murder or rape, they will face life imprisonment imposed by the judge. This is the only reason we can protect the public from harm

Rehabilitation:
Rehabilitation means that the prisoner is ready to accept the crime he committed and take some necessary steps to change himself. In this case, the government decides to give him the opportunity to change his prison situation.

A Few Crimes punishable with life imprisonment
Section Offense Punishment
121 Waging, abetting war against the government of India. Life imprisonment and death sentence.
132 Abetment of mutiny or if mutiny is committed in consequence of. Death and life sentence for 10 years or fine
194 False evidence shown in the court during the court proceedings. Death sentence, life imprisonment and fine can be charged as decided by the court.
302 Murder Death sentence, life imprisonment.
303, 364A, 396 Dacoity in murder or more number of murders are caused, kidnapping or abduction Death sentence or life imprisonment or fine.

ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST LIFE IMPRISONMENT
For:
Heinous crimes such as rape or murder have a very serious impact on the lives of the victims or their families and lead to the destruction of many lives. Therefore, the perpetrators are made to atone for their crimes with life imprisonment. The death penalty is just a legal murder, a death for a death is unjust. Life imprisonment gives criminals the opportunity to conduct introspection and be aware of their mistakes and make them accept what they have done.

Many prisoners are given shifts and are allowed to live and work in a certain society so that they can earn some money for their own lives and to change the lives of their own families. Prisoners have the opportunity to change their lives or lead a happy life. Citizens of a society are able to feel safer, because they know that truly dangerous criminals are no longer allowed to walk the streets.

A life sentence removes any sort of doubt that the person will ever be able to commit a crime and increases the peace of mind afforded to the average citizen. Penalties have been effectively increased. Life imprisonment is the top of the punishment pyramid alongside the death penalty, allowing the government to increase all its penalties accordingly. When a person steals, they know that the punishment they get is indeed corresponding to their crime.

Those who commit murder or rape know that they are risking their eternal freedom, which can be a powerful deterrent. The penalty remains the same. When life imprisonment is a punishment, there is no error, and ignorance cannot be used as an excuse. When there is an established punishment system that will not change for a particular person, societyís will plays a greater role.

AGAINST:
Prison do not rehabilitate. In many cases, a person forced to spend his life in prison will not realize the consequences of his actions. Furthermore meeting with other professional criminals may lead to worsening of the criminalís internal character and erode at his better qualities.

This would serve as a greater burden on the taxpayers. The more criminals are imprisoned, the higher the costs the taxpayer incurs. Providing food and accommodation during the life of a criminal is expensive, as are the necessary medical services that he may need. While some of the better off taxpayers may be happy to pay the bill because they gain a sense of security, this would serve as a burden on the other taxpayers.

More prisons are needed. As the number of criminals sentenced to life imprisonment increases, not only must taxpayers pay for food and lodging, they must also spend huge amounts of money on the construction of the said prisons. As the number of criminals increase on a steady rate, the need for more and more prison arises, the payment for these prisons will come out of the pockets of the hardworking citizens.

Conclusion
The death penalty or the capital punishment can be defined as the punishment applied to criminals who commit serious crimes. According to the death penalty, the life of the criminal ends by hanging or similar methods. Some countries impose the death penalty on crimes considered barbaric, while other countries and their citizens stand in solidarity to regard the death penalty as an outright violation of an individualís human rights, and does not serve as a reformative punishment.

Due to these reasons many countries choose to give life imprisonment to criminals who commit serious crimes, as a way to safeguard the accused personís life and safeguard his basic human rights.

Not only this, but the United Nations along with various other welfare organizations , do not support capital punishment because it does not serve the purpose of punishing the criminal and rather provides him within an easy escape from all of his wrong doings through the simple as well as easy punishment of death. [4]

End-Notes:
  1. https://results.amarujala.com/career-diary/how-many-years-is-a-life-imprisonment-in-india
  2. https://www.writinglaw.com/punishments-under-ipc/
  3. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Life-imprisonment-means-jail-term-for-entire-life-SC/article15619409.ece
  4. https://apecsec.org/life-imprisonment-pros-and-cons/

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