SC Stays HC Verdict On Condemn Cell

High Court. file Photo

High Court. file Photo

The Supreme Court today stayed until August 25 the High Court verdict that ordered the authorities concerned to move the prisoners, sentenced to death, to ordinary cells of jails from condemned cells. The Appellate Division of the Chamber Court today suspended the High Court’s ruling. In previous rule it was stated that the convicts cannot be kept in the condemned cell before the death sentence is finalized.

Appellate Division Chamber Justice M Enayetur Rahim passed the order on Wednesday (May 15).

The apex court chamber judge also asked the government to file a leave to appeal petition with this court against the HC verdict.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin heard on behalf of the State in the court while Advocate Mohammad Shishir Monir appeared for the writ.

Before this, the State appealed against the High Court’s verdict. Attorney General AM Amin Uddin appealed on Tuesday.

The High Court declared it illegal and unlawful to keep the accused in the condemned cell before the death sentence was finalized. The High Court bench of Justice Sheikh Hasan Arif and Justice Md Bazlur Rahman settled the rule issued in this regard. The verdict was announced after a long 3 and a half hours.

The verdict states that the accused cannot be kept in the condemned cell until the phases of appeal, review, and pardon to the President are settled. At present, before the death penalty is finalized, all the convicts who are kept in condemned cells across the country have been told to move to general cells within two years gradually. However, for special reasons (health reasons, communicable diseases) the prison authorities can keep a person in solitary confinement. In that case, the hearing should be held in the presence of that person.

Advocate Mohammad Shishir Monir heard on behalf of the writ in the court. Advocate Asad Uddin accompanied him. Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder heard for the State. Assistant Attorney General MMG Sarwar Payal, and Nasim Islam Raju were also present.

Three inmates of Chattogram, Sylhet, and Cumilla prisons filed a petition in the High Court on 2 September 2021, challenging the validity of keeping convicts in condemned cells before the finalization of the death sentence. They are – Zillur Rahman of Satkania, Abdul Bashir of Sunamganj and Shah Alam of Khagrachari. After hearing the writ, the High Court issued a ruling on 5 April 2022.

The ruling sought to know why the detention of convicts in condemned cells before the finalization of the death sentence should not be declared unlawful and why Section 980 of the Penal Code should not be declared unconstitutional regarding the detention of death row convicts in condemned cells. Besides, the court wants a report on what kind of facilities are given to the prisoners kept in the condemned cells. 

According to Section 374 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the approval of the High Court Division is required to execute the death penalty. As per Section 410 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a person sentenced to death can appeal to the High Court against the verdict of the trial court. If the High Court Division upholds the death sentence, the convicted person can appeal to the Appellate Division. 

If the death penalty is upheld even in the verdict of the Appellate Division, there is an opportunity to apply for a review (reconsideration) against the verdict of the Appellate Division as per Article 105 of the Constitution. 

Apart from this, according to Article 49 of the Constitution, a death-sentenced accused can seek pardon from the President. If the president rejects the pardon petition or if the convict does not apply, the Government can execute the death penalty. But immediately after the death sentence in the judicial court, the sentenced person is kept in the condemned cell.

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