Explained: life imprisonment in India

The author has explained the meaning of the term “life imprisonment” in India. For the analysis, the author also used various legal provisions and precedents.


Section 53 of India’s Criminal Code mentions the list of penalties for offenders. One of these crimes is life imprisonment. This is the second severest punishment in India. A life sentence exists for serious crimes such as murder, rape, blasphemy, etc.

Meaning of life

Life imprisonment means imprisonment for the remainder of the life of the convicted prisoner.

In case of Bhagirath & Ors v. Delhi Administration;; defined the Supreme of India Imprisonment for life as imprisonment for the remainder of the convict’s natural life. When a person is imprisoned for life; he is supposed to stay in jail for a Minimum of 14 years and the maximum is the rest of his life.

At the time of the Indian Criminal Code (hereinafter “IPC”) there was no life sentence. was formulated.

However, when Section 53 of the IPC was changed in 1955; They replaced “transport for life” with “imprisonment for life”.

The reason for this punishment is to break the bond between the perpetrator and society. Not only will this stop them from committing further crimes, but it will also allow them to reconsider what they have done.

Provisions relating to life imprisonment

There are various provisions under the IPC and the Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter: Cr.PC) that deal with life imprisonment.

Two provisions in the IPC usually confuse citizens about the length of life imprisonment. These include sections 55 and 57:

  1. § 55 mentions that when a person is sentenced to life imprisonment; then the competent government decides to commute his sentence, it can do so without the consent of the prisoner. However, this commuting penalty may not exceed 14 years. This should not be confused with the length of life imprisonment as a IPC does not limit life imprisonment to 14 years, but to the commuting sentence.
  2. Section 57 discusses the calculation of fractions of punishment conditions. This applies to sections 116, 119, 120 and 511 of the IPC. For example we can take into account Section 116 and Section 57 of the IPC. When a person encourages an offense punishable by life imprisonment; then the fractions of that person’s sentences are calculated as imprisonment for 20 years.

There are also three provisions under Cr.PC that deal with life imprisonment. they include

  1. Section 432 Authorizes the competent government to waive or suspend a convicted person’s sentences, including life imprisonment
  2. Section 433 authorizes the relevant government to convert the penalties if they have mentioned it. This conversion penalty may not exceed 14 years.
  3. Section 433A restricts the issuing or commutation authority in certain cases, including a life sentence of a maximum of 14 years.


In case of Gopal Vinayak Godse v. The state of Maharashtra;; The court ruled that life imprisonment cannot be equated with a fixed term. As a result, a life sentence imprisoned a prisoner for the rest of his or her life. Until or until his sentence is commuted or waived by the appropriate government.

In case of Naib Singh v. State of Punjab & Ors.; The Supreme Court of India cleared the confusion with the length of life imprisonment and Section 55 of the IPC. The court ruled that a life convicted person cannot apply for release after 14 years in prison. Life imprisonment lasts until the prison dies. The only exception is commutation and remission.

in the Union of India v. IN THE. Sriharan;; The Punjab and Haryana Supreme Court ruled that the court did not have the power to revoke the government’s remission powers. This power rests only with the High Court and the Supreme Court. This has been repeated in the case of Savitri V, Haryana State.


Life imprisonment, as the name suggests, is life imprisonment. However, the responsible government takes certain factors into account and transfers or commutes the prisoner. These factors include the prisoner’s behavior, family situation, prisoner’s age, prison job, etc. Therefore, life imprisonment is a punishment to prevent the person from committing the crime. it also helps him reform himself.

Comments are closed.