2016 SCC Vol. 7 August 7, 2016 Part 1

scccover 7.08

Penal Code, 1860 — Ss. 53, 54, 55-A and 45 — Validity of non-remittable special category sentence in substitution of death sentence: Life imprisonment in terms of Ss. 53 and 45 IPC means imprisonment for rest of life of convict.  Said special category sentence, in substitution of death sentence, that is, sentence barring remission under CrPC for specified term beyond 14 yrs, is valid. It is clarified that power under Arts. 72 and 161, not affected at all. After expiry of said non-remittable term, remission powers under CrPC would be exercisable. Such special sentence, is not a new sentence but within limits of life imprisonment and thus, not violative of separation of powers. Such special sentence when imposed under substantive provisions of IPC does not overlap procedural power under CrPC either. Considering crime situation in India (particularly nexus between hardened criminals and ill-gotten wealth, and nature of heinous crimes on the rise), delay in disposal of cases, and balancing interests of victims with those of convicts, such special category sentence is necessary. Argument based on ray of hope for the convict, not tenable. Such hope, rather required for victims. Such special category sentence can only be imposed by High Court or Supreme Court and not by trial court. Such special category sentence not prescribed by any statute, barring operation of remission powers under CrPC, is invalid. Such special category sentence closes doors for reformation.  Such special sentence encroaches upon power of legislature by prescribing a new sentence. [Union of India v. V. Sriharan, (2016) 7 SCC 1]


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