Says Sessions Courts lack the power
A full Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday ruled that the Sessions Courts had no power to impose harsher variety of life terms as an option available in law to avoid the harshest and irrevocable punishment of death sentence.
The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur, Justice M. Sasidharan Nambiar, and Justice T.R. Ramachandra Menon, held that the area of remission and commuting of punishments were out of the purview of Sessions Courts.
Only the executive could exercise such powers for giving remission or commuting of punishments, it said.
The court said that depending on the prison manual or any other law, one could not bring down life imprisonment for life below 14 years with all remissions and other best possible benefits which would be extended to the accused.
In respect to offences where death penalty or imprisonment for life can be awarded, it is upon the Sessions Court to look into facts and circumstances in the list of gamut of decisions and decide whether it would fall under the category of rarest of rare cases, warranting capital punishment of death.
Once the case on hand has been excluded from the category of rarest of rare, the only option before the court is the imprisonment sentence of life, which would mean for the rest of the life of the accused, the court said.
The Supreme Court had earlier opined that the High Courts and the Supreme Court can consider awarding larger sentences of imprisonment for life than ordinary imprisonment for life, which is subject to benefit of remission and commutation, the order said.
The order of the full bench came while considering a reference made by Justice Nambiar.
The Chief Justice had earlier asked Justice Nambiar to consider the case after a division Bench comprising Justice R. Basanth and Justice K. Vinod Chandran dissented on awarding extended life term to convicts in murder cases.
The division Bench had earlier observed that that harsher life terms without parole, commutation or remission should be more of a norm, while considering the references of death penalty given by various trial courts to 10 convicts, including that of Govindachamy, the convict in the Soumya murder case.
Life term not to be below 14 years, says High Court Remission stated to be executive’s power
Life term not to be below 14 years, says High Court
Remission stated to be executive’s power