Life Style

Sagar suryawanshi pune- How long is a life sentence in India?

When we talk about life imprisonment, many questions arise in our minds. What exactly does it mean when a person has been sentenced to life imprisonment? Does it mean that the person has been subjected to imprisonment, till the end of his or her life? Is there any particular number of years, only up to which a person serves life imprisonment?  In this article, we will be discussing all the above-mentioned questions. Also, we have discussed all the important provisions in the Indian Constitution discussing the same.

In many cases, you must have seen that though a person was sentenced to life imprisonment, then he came out of jail after a few years only. Well, of course, the above mentioned two conditions do contradict each other. Therefore, understanding the actual meaning of life imprisonment is a bit tricky.

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sagarsuryawanshipuneadvocate To understand how the concept of life imprisonment works, we need to understand some parts of Section 53, 55 and 57 of IPC, Section 433 and 433A of CRPC and Article 72 and 161 of the Indian Constitution.

IPC Section 53:-

Now, whenever a person commits any serious crime, he or she is punished as per Section 53 of IPC. This section has divided punishment into five basic categories which are:-

  • Death Penalty
  • Life imprisonment
  • Imprisonment- Simple and Rigorous
  • Fine
  • Forfeiture of Property.

Now, if a person has been sentenced to life imprisonment then he or she is the reason of the government, as now that person will be under the custody of the government. This can be both state and central government. Here, it becomes the responsibility of the government to completely execute the life imprisonment of that criminal.

IPC Section 55:-

This section in particular talks about commutation here means swapping a more serious punishment with a less serious one. For example, the Death penalty can be replaced by Life imprisonment. Life imprisonment by rigorous imprisonment and Rigorous imprisonment by simple imprisonment. This is what section 55 says.

As per this section, the power of commuting the punishment of life imprisonment lies with the appropriate government (central or state) whichever is applicable in the case. As per the government’s discretion, if the criminal sentenced to life imprisonment has some kind of physical, mental or family issues, then his punishment can be commuted to a less serious level. But, this decision of computation needs to be made before the criminal completes his 14 years of punishment.

IPC Section 57:-

The meaning of the word life imprisonment can be different for different people, depending upon that person’s age. Section 57 provides all the calculations for increasing or decreasing the life imprisonment of a person. It says that the punishment of life imprisonment can be increased or decreased only by 20 years. But, this doesn’t mean that life imprisonment can only be up to 20 years. The period of 20 years is only meant for calculation.

Now, let’s talk about the provisions of CRPC

Section 432,433:-

Well, we can say that we have almost covered these two sections. This is because these two sections are similar to section 55 of IPC. As per them, the more serious punishment of the criminal can be reduced to a less serious one, even without asking from the criminal himself. But, this is done only under certain specific circumstances. The only added feature of this section is that the government can completely let go of the punishment of the criminal. This is called remission.

Section 433A:-

This section is more closely linked with human psychology. For example, if a criminal has been sentenced to the punishment of life imprisonment or the death penalty, then it was given to him because as per the crime committed by him, he deserved that punishment. Section 433a is based on the same psychology.

This section says that if a person deserves the death penalty, and the court has already reduced the punishment and given life imprisonment to him, and then also if his punishment needs more reduction, he has to serve a minimum of 14 years in jail. This is the kind of restriction that 433a imposes on the government. Post 14 years, what needs to be done about his remaining punishment is dependent upon his conduct.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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