Mitigating Circumstances Justifying Reduction of Sentence


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Mitigating circumstances justifying reduction of sentence from death to imprisonment for life?

Non-proving of the motive i.e. absence of premeditation, in the cases of capital punishment could be considered as a mitigating circumstance justifying reduction of sentence from death to imprisonment for life. The Supreme Court relied on 2013 SCMR 1602 as well on 2011 SCMR 1165. Moreover, recovery at the instance of the accused was also one of the factors considered for mitigating the sentence.

Basis of imposing death penalty only in ‘most serious crimes’ as expounded by Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR)?

It is trite that quantum of sentence may be reduced from death penalty to life imprisonment if the prosecution fails to establish motive. This principle is in conformity with Article 6 of the ICCPR which stipulates that the death penalty may only be imposed for the ‘most serious crimes’. The Supreme Court explained the concept of ‘inherent right to life’ finding mention in ICCPR’s General Comment No. 6 of 1982 as well as Article 9 (right to life) and Article 14 (right of dignity) of the Constitution of Pakistan to discuss the scope for imposing capital punishment. Moreover the Resolution No. 1984/50 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elucidating the safeguards guaranteeing protection of rights of those facing death penalty was also spelt out for the purpose of refining the boundary line for imposing capital punishment.

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