Whereas section 54 empowers the appropriate Government to commute sentence of death this section empowers the same authority to commute sentence of imprisonment for life. Under this section also, like the previous section, consent of the offender is not necessary for the commutation. The sentence of imprisonment for life may be commuted to imprisonment of either description not exceeding fourteen years. A similar provision exists in section 433(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Since the power of commutation has been vested in the appropriate Government by this section and section 433(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Courts are not entitled to issue directions in this regard.
Imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the remaining span of life of the convict and consequently a convict cannot claim as of right that his sentence of imprisonment for life should expire after fourteen years. However, these provisions are subject to Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution wherein the President of India and Governor of a State respectively have been empowered to grant pardons etc. and suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases. Appropriate Government has been defined in section 55-A of the Indian Penal Code.