Yasin Malik can contest sentence, not conviction: Legal experts
On May 10, Malik pleaded guilty under sections 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act), and 20 (being member of terrorist gang or organisation) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sections 120-B and 124-A of the IPC.
JKLF chief Yasin Malik can appeal against the sentence of life imprisonment imposed on him but not his conviction, legal experts said after his sentencing on Wednesday.
Malik was handed out a life term for his role in the offence of terror funding and secessionist activities that disturbed the Kashmir Valley in 2017.
On May 10, he pleaded guilty under sections 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act), and 20 (being member of terrorist gang or organisation) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (raging war against the state) and 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Pleading guilty refers to an accused accepting his crime and subsequently, also the punishment with certain stipulations. In this procedure, while framing of charges, the accused is given an option by the judge to either plead guilty or claim trial. If the accused claims trial, the case proceeds normally. In case the accused pleads guilty, the next step is the conviction.
Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa said that in terms of section 375 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) no appeal lies in cases where accused pleads guilty of the offences and has been convicted.
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“However in the order of sentence in cases of conviction passed by court of sessions, Metropolitan magistrate or any other magistrate, the appeal can be filed to the extent or on the legality of the sentence passed by the court. In cases where appeal doesn’t lie, a revision can be filed in the high court under section 401 CRPC if the order passed by the court is incorrect, illegal or improper. The revision however has very limited jurisdiction in the court, “ he said.
Senior advocate AS Chandhiok said that the provision of plea bargaining is aimed to reduce the case load in courts and hence the provision of challenging the sentence is available.
Advocate Umesh Sharma, a lawyer practising in the high court said that the accused can challenge the sentence saying that the punishment is disproportionate and be reduced.
Even though the maximum sentence, under which Malik was charged, is death penalty, in accordance with 121 of the IPC (waging war against the state), the court awarded him a life term. While doing so, it held that the case does not fall within the category of rarest of rare where the death sentence should be the only fitting punishment.