Time limit for filing appeal against death sentence increased to 30 days, SHC told

October 03, 2023

The Sindh High Court on Monday disposed of a petition seeking enhancement the time limit for filing appeals by death row convicts in the high court after amendments to Limitation (Amendment) Act 2023 whereby the period of limitation for filing an appeal against the death sentence has been increased from seven to 30 days.

Ghulam Mohammad Dars had sought in his petition an increase in the seven-day limited period for filing an appeal against the death sentence prescribed in terms of Article 150 of the first schedule to the limitation act to 30 days.

The petitioner’s counsel Rafiq Kalwar submitted that the period provided under Article 150 was the shortest for filing any sort of an appeal under the act and was so inadequate as to amount to a violation of fundamental rights.

The counsel pointed out that an appropriate amendment had been made by the legislature in India so as to increase the limitation period for filing an appeal in such matters from seven to 30 days under Article 115 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963.

The federal government through its comments contended that the seven days’ period was just and reasonable and that its rationale was to provide quick and speedy justice to an accused who is sentenced to death.

The federal law officer however did not stand by that stance and submitted that the federal government would consider an appropriate amendment under the law.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed inquired the law officer as to whether any instance could be cited where an appeal against the death sentence had been dismissed merely on the touchstone of limitation. However, no such reference was forthcoming.

The court observed that Section 374 of the CrPC and Section 376 of the CrPC also dealt with criteria to confirm the punishment of the death sentence by the trial court.

It further observed that the matter was earlier heard and reserved for judgment on March 3, 2023; however, it transpires that in the interregnum the federal legislature has seen it fit to promulgate the Limitation (Amendment) Act 2023 whereby the period of the limitation under Article 150 of the first schedule of the act has been enhanced from seven to 30 days. The court observed that it is apparent that the petition has served its purpose and therefore, the petition is disposed of.