Convicts serving jail term for failure to pay fine will still pay: SC

Updated August 10, 2019

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The judgement was announced by a three-judge Supreme Court bench. — APP/File
The judgement was announced by a three-judge Supreme Court bench. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court on Friday held that the amount of fine can still be recovered from a convict even if he has undergone additional sentence of imprisonment for non-payment of fine.

“A sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fine is only a punishment for non-payment of fine and it is not a substitute for the sentence of fine,” observed Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in a judgement he authored. The verdict also clarified that in case the convicts paid the fine then their assets and properties would not be forfeited as set off for fine.

The judgement was announced by a three-judge Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Yahya Afridi. The bench had taken up a number of criminal appeals against different judgements of the Balochistan High Court against orders of accountability courts.

The appeals and petitions pertain to different references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against different people who were convicted by trial courts to different jail terms in addition to imposing fines.

The trial courts had also ordered forfeiture of assets and properties of the accused to set off against the amount of fine in case of non-recovery or non-payment of the amount of fine by the accused besides undergoing a further term of two years of rigorous imprisonment.

These convictions and sentences were subsequently challenged before the Balochistan High Court and reached the Supreme Court at a later stage in which the top court, however, reduced the sentence of the imprisonment slightly.

The Supreme Court also upheld expressly the orders passed by trial courts regarding payment of fine, forfeiture of assets and properties and the sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fines.

Subsequently, an issue surfaced whether in default of payment of fine, NAB could proceed with forfeiture of the relevant assets and properties as a substitute for the fine or not. The counsel representing different accused argued that after serving out the sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fine, neither the amount of fine could be recovered nor asset or properties could be forfeited.

The high court through an order approved the stand taken by the convicts by stating it to be correct and held that after serving out the sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fine, neither the amount of fine could be recovered nor assets and properties forfeited.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2019