K.S. Varma, J.
1. This petition praying for a writ of habeas corpus has been presented by Ram Dayal. The facts giving rise to the petition are that the applicant Ram Dayal was sentenced to life imprisonment for an offence under Section 396 of the Penal Code. He was arrested in 1962 and was awarded life imprisonment by the Additional Sessions Judge, Unnao on 7-7-1967. The petitioner is in jail since 1962. He presented before this Court a habeas corpus petition No. 1851 of 1981 which was disposed of by a Division Bench of this Court on 22-5-1981. in that order, the Division Bench directed that the State Government shall consider forthwith the case of the petitioner for remission of the rest of the sentence on merits and ignore the provisions of Section 433A Cr. P.C. After the disposal of the Writ Petition the present petition was filed in which it was contended that having regard to Section 57 of the I.P.C. the petitioner has served 20 years imprisonment and as such he is entitled to be released on the ground that he has served out the life imprisonment awarded to him. It is also submitted that his further detention in jail is illegal and he deserves to be released forthwith.
2. The question that awaits consideration of this Court is what is the meaning of life imprisonment awarded to a person. Reference in this connection may be made to Gopal Vinayak Godse v. State of Maharashtra : 1961CriLJ736a wherein it was held by the Supreme Court that the imprisonment for life lasts until the last breath. This view was subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Ratan Singh : 1976CriLJ1192 in which it has been held that the sentence of life imprisonment enures till the lifetime of the accused. The view taken in the aforesaid decisions has again been affirmed by the Supreme Court in Maru Ram v. Union of India : 1980CriLJ1440 . A perusal of the aforesaid decisions clearly indicates that if a person is awarded life imprisonment, that sentence would enure till lifetime of the accused. The question that now arises is as to what is the scope of Section 57 of the I.P.C. which provides that in calculating fractions of terms punishment of imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for 20 years. It will be clear from a perusal of Sections 116, 119 and 120 of the I.P.C. that the prescribed fractions of sentence to be awarded in case any one abets the commission of a crime. Section 57 of the I. P. C deals with the calculation of the sentence where the punishment provided for the offence abetted is imprisonment for life and further provides that for the said purpose the prescribed punishment is to be reckoned as sentence of imprisonment for 20 years. In this background the irresistible conclusion is that it is only for the purpose of calculating fractions of terms of punishment that sentence of imprisonment for life is to be treated as one for 20 years. For other purpose the interpretation placed by the Supreme Court on 'imprisonment for life' would mean imprisonment till the lifetime of the accused, it is not possible to accept the contention of the petitioner that since the petitioner has remained in jail for a period of 20 years as provided by Section 57 of the I. P.C., he is entitled to be released forthwith as having completed the terms of life imprisonment.
3. We are fortified in our view by the observations of the Supreme Court in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Ratan Singh 1976 Cri LJ 1192 (supra), it has been clearly laid down in the aforesaid decision that although the sentence of life imprisonment would enure till the lifetime, of the accused but if the question of remission of sentence is to be considered, it is within the exclusive domain of the appropriate Government as indicated in Section 401 of the Code of Criminal procedure, 1898. Neither Section 57 of the I.P.C. nor any Rules or local Acts can stultify the effect of the sentence of life imprisonment given by the Court under the I.P.C. The Supreme Court emphatically observed that the prisoner cannot be released automatically on the expiry of 20 years.
4. In para 6 of the counter-affidavit it has been stated that the State Government had already considered the question of remission and after calling for the report of the Superintendent of Police and the District Magistrate has ordered that the matter of release of the petitioner be postponed for a period of two years. A copy of the letter is filed as. Annexure A-1 to the counter-affidavit.
5. For the reasons stated above, it cannot be said that the detention of the petitioner is illegal. We, accordingly, find no merits in this petition. It is hereby dismissed.