ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing of a case to determine length for life sentence till date in office.

A seven-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin heard the case. During the course of proceedings, the court also dismissed the petitioner’s plea for withdrawal of the petition.  The chief justice remarked, “The court has power to give sentence, but how can a valid term be determined without determining life imprisonment period.” He said thousands of people were facing life imprisonment. The determination of life imprisonment’s length was a very sensitive issue, he added.

The chief justice remarked that legal experts had also filed suggestions. The court wanted to hear counsel of only two to three petitioners, who should take a decision in that regard, he added. The counsel for the Pakistan Bar Council stated that PBC wanted to become a party in the case.  The chief justice in a lighter note remarked whether the PBC was sentenced for life imprisonment.

Advocate Zulifqar Maloka, counsel for the petitioner, said there were two first information reports registered against his client. The chief justice remarked that the accused first committed two killings and then 10. The first case against him was filed in 1997 and the second one in 1998.  He told the counsel that as his client’s one review petition had also been rejected, the court could not hear the case again through a miscellaneous petition.

The chief justice observed that after dismissal of a review plea, the petitioner could use a revisit forum. Only the Supreme Court had the power to revisit a case, he added.

He remarked that the Supreme Court revisited case not on an application, but at its discretion. The court would not change the fixed process regarding hearing of cases, he added.

He observed that there were four judicial decisions related to the revisit.

He said six countries had adopted a law regarding life imprisonment. The courts of the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Australia had decisions regarding life imprisonment.  There was no direct trial in the Supreme Court regarding determination of life imprisonment length, he added.

He remarked that in criminal cases it was written in the order to impose a combined sentence and before serving combined sentence it was necessary to determine the length of a life sentence.