The Supreme Court Commutes the Death Sentence of Two Prisoners

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of two prisoners, who were deemed to be mentally challenged patients. They have been behind bars for several decades and now, their sentence has been reduced to life imprisonment. 

This 51-page judgment was issued by a five-judge larger bench, belonging to the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court. The head of this particular registry is Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik. 

The verdict said that the judges observed the circumstances of the convict, Imdad Ali. They stated that there were sufficient reasons to commute the sentence of the accused. Therefore, they decided, in unison, to convert the death sentence to life imprisonment. 

The statement further outlined that the motive presented at trial court at the time of prosecution was disbelieved. Consequently, this was ignored when the prisoner’s appeal was rejected. In addition, the court said that a likely reason of this ignorance could be the lack of assistance that the prisoner had. 

Thus, according to the top court, the oversight qualified as a ground for review the decision, which resulted in the conversion of the sentence. The judges pointed out that the convict has served almost 20 years of his sentence. Bringing precedence from the case of Sikandar Hayat versus the state and others, it was said that the prisoner was entitled to a reduced sentence. 

As per Section 382-B, Cr.P.C, the convict, Imdad Ali, was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for removing the death penalty. 

However, the apex court went on to add that the amount of sentence and compensation will remain intact in the case. 

Where the death sentence of Kaneezan Bibi, the second prisoner, is concerned, the court noted that she has been in prison for around 32 years. This means that she has served out several years more than the alternate verdict provided under section 302(b) of the Pakistan Penal Code. 

According to the five-judge larger bench, this score is good enough to invoke the legitimate expectancy of life. The top court also observed that the prisoner had not filed any appeal to review her petition. This could be because her criminal appeal was dismissed by the SC on the 2nd of March, 1999. 

Therefore, due to the lack of a petition, the court exercised its suo motu jurisdiction and reviewed her case. This power has been granted to the court under Article 187 of the Constitution of Pakistan. It also gives the judges the right to do complete justice and review the judgment that was made in the year 1999. However, their powers are restricted to the 1994 Crl. Appeal No. 415 filed by Kaneezan Bibi. 

The top court clarified that No. 415 is only partly allowed. Her conviction under the relevant sentence was on six counts and stayed that way. But, her sentence of death was converted to one of imprisonment for life. 

Moreover, the SC directed the convict to pay a compensation of Rs. 20,000 as per the earlier verdict given by the trial court.