Pardoning Powers of President and Governor

Pardoning Powers of President and Governor

Background-

  • The men, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, were released from Godhra Sub jail on August 15, after Gujarat Govt. allowed their release under its remission policy.
  • The Gujarat Govt. told the apex court that the men were granted early release as they had served 15 years of their life sentence and their behaviour was found to be good.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where-
    • Punishment or Sentence is against a Union law.
    • Punishment is Sentence of Death.
    • Punishment is by Court Martial (Military Court).
  • Under Article 161 of the constitution, The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law where-
    • Punishment or Sentence is against a state law

How Power is Exercised?

  • President has to act on advice of council of ministers of the Union.
  • Governor has to act on advice of council of ministers of the state.

Limitations-

  • Pardoning Powers of Governor does not extends to death sentence
  • Governor cannot decide on mercy plea when sentence is by court martial

 Key Terms

  • Pardon : It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
  • Commutation : It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
  • Remission : It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
  • Respite : It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
  • Reprieve : It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation.

Way Forward-

Constitution makers decided to provide this device to Executive to correct any inadvertent error in justice delivery. Hence, it should be exercised with due caution to promote the ideal of Justice.

NEWS- Supreme court to look into Bilkis Bano’s petitions against early release of 11 convicts

Syllabus- Mains, GS-2; Pardoning powers of President and Governor

CIVIL SERVICES EXAM