Supreme Court to decide if courts can add word ‘rigorous’ to life term


The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question whether courts are statutorily empowered to make life imprisonments tougher for the convicts by adding the word “rigorous” (harsh) to life sentence as the law does not provide for this.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal considered a submission which said that neither the penal provision dealing with the offence of murder, nor the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provide that the term “rigorous” can be added by courts while awarding life sentence to convicts.

Supreme Court

The apex court issued notices to the parties in the case and tagged the matter with a similar issue being heard by a different bench.

Senior advocate Parmanand Katara, appearing for convict Abdul Maliq and others, who has been awarded rigorous life term in a murder case, contended that the judgement pronounced by the courts below were “unconstitutional and ultra-vires” as penal and procedural laws do not empower them to qualify the life sentence with the term “rigorous”.

The apex court was hearing the appeal filed by Abdul Maliq and four others, serving rigorous life term in an Uttar Pradesh jail, challenging the high court verdict in a murder case.

The high court had upheld the trial court judgement convicting and awarding life term to Maliq and others for shooting to death one Dunna on July 14, 1999 in UP’s Sitapur district.

In a similar issue, the apex court had issued notice on a plea filed by Ram Kumar Sivare, who is serving rigorous life term in a Chhattisgarh jail, challenging the high court verdict in a murder case.


  1. While pronouncing verdicts, the courts must take into account ‘ exact’ quantum of punishments permitted by he legal parlance. It may be right to point out that the word or words like ‘ rigorous’ may connote extra meaning that is beyond the limit of Constitution. Hence, there is a valid argument in considering to drop the word.


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