The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) is rethinking the exact length of life imprisonment. For this purpose, a larger bench of the SCP would hear the judicial notice on October 2, 2019. It is not the first time that the honourable SC is contemplating on this legal point. The reason that the issue surfaces time and again before the august court is the fact that in many cases, life imprisonment is reduced to a mere 7-8 years confinement. If reports are to be believed, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Asif Saeed Khosa believes in the literal meanings of “life imprisonment”.

Nevertheless, the idea behind disciplining an individual through imprisonment is more of political debate rather than a legal and jurisprudential question. Is it not a better idea if the esteemed court asks the Parliament to determine what meanings should the term carry? The honourable CJP thinks that by rethinking the connotations of life imprisonment from days and years to the literal one, no one will commit heinous crimes such as murder. But do we have any evidence for that? Or even if we take the example of the United States (US) where life imprisonment is far more severe, have people stopped committing heinous crimes there? If not, then why do we think that just changing the meanings of the “two words” will stop people from committing crimes of horrific nature.

If one asks even a layman about the philosophy behind prisons and imprisonments, common sense will guide her/him in answering the rationale behind confinement of a human body. That a person is imprisoned to correct her/his actions and morals is the whole essence of caging a person. However, if the SC follows its instincts on life imprisonment, a person may never get a chance to correct his actions. Is it not preferable, then, to reward her/him capital punishment? Perhaps, the solution that the SC has in mind is not an ideal one.