ISLAMABAD  -   The Supreme Court Monday formed a larger bench to determine the span of life imprisonment.

A three-member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa took notice of the issue while hearing a petition seeking reducing a convict’s life sentence into half.

During the proceedings, the chief justice issued notices to attorney general, provincial advocates general and prosecutors and directed the registrar office to fix the case for hearing in first week of October.

The bench will take up the matter with an aim to settle ambiguity in the law with regards to the span of life imprisonment.

The direction came during the hearing of petition submitted by lifer Haroon naming state of Pakistan respondent, seeking redefinition of life term’s duration.

Rashid’s lawyer told the court that his client was sentenced to life imprisonment 12 times in 12 different cases of murder. Haroon has been in jail since 1997 and has served 22-year sentence, he said, adding that the court had allowed for the 12 sentences to be served concurrently.

The lawyer requested the court to consider span of life sentence on 12 counts under one single duration of life time imprisonment.

Upon this, the CJP said, “When we don’t know how long a person is going to live, how can we halve a life sentence.

“I had been waiting for a long time for a case where we could determine the span of a life sentence. In a jail sentence, days and nights are both counted. In this manner, a convict comes out within five years.

“It is time that we clear up these major misconceptions and figure out the span of a life sentence. It is a matter of public interest.”

Earlier last month, the chief justice had expressed his intent to re-examine the life imprisonment law “at an appropriate time”.

Also, this is not the first time that the top judiciary has made such observations about an issue regarding the life or death sentences.

In 2004, a five-member bench heard as many as 62 appeals that urged the apex court to reinstate

 death penalty for convicts whose capital punishments were commuted into life imprisonment, leading to their release on the basis of remission in their imprisonment periods.

Section 57 of the Pakistan Penal Code, Fractions of terms of punishment, says: “In calculating fractions of terms of punishment, imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for twenty-five years.”

The Supreme Court however had observed in 2004 that the provisions of the aforementioned section, which reckon 25-year imprisonment as transportation for life, only stipulate the calculation of the punishment term which is necessary because certain offences are a fraction of the term of imprisonment prescribed for other offences.