Legal Fiction and Unconstitutionality behind Life Imprisonment

Whenever a serious offender is sentenced for violating laws, a great amount of public interest is attracted during the sentence of the criminal. Even, when heavy sentencing is imposed on them through long term imprisonment or death penalty not much of the change in reduction of crime rate has been observed. The true picture depicts how the deterrent theory which is still prevalent in common countries fail to achieve its objective of setting an example so that the similar type of offence is not committed henceforth. One of such exemplary punishments is of ‘Life imprisonment’. This clearly does not reflect any changes in the offence pattern, despite being one of the highest forms of punishment.
A Constitutional bench of the Apex Court has held that the life imprisonment lasts till last breath, and the remission earned by the prisoner can be claimed only if the remaining sentence is remitted by the government. A mandatory prison sentence without the certainty of being released or probation with the term which may extend up to the life time of the offender raises grave question in Indian Constitution, primarily being human dignity which has negative psychological effects associated with it as well. It is no hidden fact that how inhumane and degrading conditions are being prevailed in the prison cells which the offenders undergoing life imprisonment are subjected to, hence no purpose of being a mere severe punishment is served at its maximum.
The paper would be discussing how life imprisonment violates the Constitutional value and basic human rights like dignity and right to clean and hygiene environment and others and how alternates to life imprisonment are a more promising source of reforming the society and bringing down the crime rates among many other benefits. The paper would also provide some suggestions which can be implemented for the benefit of the prisoners and the society at large.
Keywords: Life imprisonment, Constitutionality, Reformation, Inhumane and degrading conditions, Fundamental Rights.