Advertisements

Principle of Life Expectancy in Pakistan

Due to delays in conclusion of trials or disposal of appeals in criminal cases, courts granted convicts or accused incarcerated relief of adjusting the time period spent in jail against the sentence imposed - this was the rule of thumb quarter century ago. This was eagerly exploited by litigators who defeated the intention of common law by purposefully delaying disposal of cases so as to avail the relief of equitable principle of life expectancy. Hence, Pakistani courts moved against it (so did Indian, perhaps), and tended not to grant the said relief. In a relatively recent judgment[1], in para. 20, Hon. Jst. Asif S. Khosa reviewed the case from Indo-Pak jurisdictions and stated the current status of the principle of life expectancy as following:

"20. The discussion made above shows that as of today the following principles of practice are being followed by the courts of this country in respect of the principle of expectancy of life: 

(a) In a case where delay is occasioned in final disposition of a legal remedy being pursued by a convict sentenced to death on a charge of murder and where the undergone period of his incarceration is less than that of a term of imprisonment for life there the principle of expectancy of life for its use for the purpose of reduction of the sentence of death to imprisonment for life stands abandoned by the courts of this country.  
(b) In a case where the State or the complainant party is seeking enhancement of a sentence of imprisonment for life of a convict to death and before or during the pendency of such recourse the convict serves out his entire sentence of imprisonment for life and he has, or has not yet, been released from the jail there the principle of expectancy of life is still relevant for not enhancing the sentence of imprisonment for life to death. Article 13(a) of the Constitution is not directly relevant to such a situation but the spirit of that Article may be considered in such a case as a factor along with the other factors like expectancy of life and the facts and circumstances of the case, etc. for not enhancing the sentence of imprisonment for life to death at such a late stage.  
(c) In a case where a convict sentenced to death undergoes a period of custody equal to or more than a full term of imprisonment for life during the pendency of his judicial remedy against his conviction and sentence of death there the principle of expectancy of life may be a relevant factor to be considered along with the other factors for reducing his sentence of death to imprisonment for life."
In the instant cited case, the Hon'ble Supreme Court of Pakistan while applying the principle of life expectancy as stated above reduced the sentence of the two appellant from death to life imprisonment and extended them the benefit of undergoing their punishment for being incarcerated for the time spent during the pendency of trial and appeals. The Court distinguished the case from principle of double jeopardy and reasoned it as following:
21. We have also observed above that the stark reality staring us in the face is that both the appellants have already spent in custody a period more than a full term of imprisonment for life and if we uphold their sentences of death at this late stage then the appellants would, for all practical purposes, be punished with death after spending a period in custody which is more than a full term of imprisonment for life and such a bizarre situation may run contrary to the letter and the spirit of section 302(b), P.P.C. which provides for a sentence of death or a sentence of imprisonment for life. Such a case may not strictly be termed as a case of double punishment but it can more appropriately be called a case of an unconscionably delayed punishment, delayed to such an extent that the punishment is aggravated beyond the contemplation of the relevant law itself.

___________________
[1] Pakistan Law Digest 2013 Supreme Court 763


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Advertisement

MuddleHead Signs Off!!

MuddleHead Signs Off!!