Condemned cell confinement illegal before the final verdict: High Court

The High Court has declared it illegal to keep death-row convicts in condemned cells before their appeal and review applications are disposed of.

A High Court bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Bazlur Rahman passed the order on Monday.

Advocate Md Shishir Monir stood for the writ petitioner while Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder stood for the state.

The court said the death sentence is only considered final if it is upheld by the Appellate Division on review and the president declines to pardon the convict.

Those who have been kept in condemned cells or solitary cells in prisons have been ordered to be transferred to general cells in phases before their appeal and review applications are disposed of.

The High Court has given two years for this work.

On September 2, 2021, Shishir Monir filed the writ petition on behalf of three death row convicts who were in a condemned cell in Chittagong Central Jail.

He filed the writ petition with the High Court challenging the legality of keeping the death row convict in a condemned cell before the final disposal of the case.

During a hearing, lawyer Shishir had said that the death-row convicts have been kept in the condemn cells in very inhumane and degrading manner which is contradictory to article 35(5) of the constitution.

Citing an Indian Supreme Court judgment, he had said no convict can be kept in death cell until his or her case is finally disposed of by the apex court.  

Monir had said in the final verdict, the death sentence, in many cases, gets reduced to life imprisonment or even the convict is acquitted. This rule is a violation of human rights.

The writ petition sought the issuance of a rule asking why confinement in a condemned cell before the finalization of the death penalty should not be declared illegal.

At the same time, the writ requested to transfer the three convicts from the condemned cell to the normal cell.

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