Murder convict’s plea against ‘rigorous’ life term dismissed

December 19th, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a lawsuit by a murder convict asking if the courts are empowered to make his imprisonment rigorous while jailing him for life.A bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee threw out Balchandra Parmanand Panchal’s petition “in limini”, that is at the admission stage and without assigning any reason to him.

As senior advocate Pandit Parmanand Katara pleaded to the court to admit his client’s plea to answer the legal question raised by him, the bench merely said: “Come with some better case. Raise the question in an appropriate case.”

The contention that a murder convict cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment of rigorous nature had been raised by Panchal, who is undergoing “rigorous life imprisonment” in a jail in Gujarat.

Panchal was convicted along with one of his two sons on charges of murdering their neighbour. The second son, who too faced the trial, was acquitted.

The murder was committed in August 1999. While a Kutch session court sentenced him to rigorous life imprisonment in June 2001, the Gujarat High Court upheld his conviction and sentence in June 2008. Panchal approached the apex court challenging the high court ruling.

Arguing on behalf of his client, Katara argued that the lower courts as well as the high court had erred in awarding rigorous life imprisonment to his client as section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, which provides punishment for murder convicts, does not provide rigorous life imprisonment.

Katara sought to buttress his point by even quoting section 302 of the IPC, which says: “Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.”

But the bench was not impressed by Katara’s argument.

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