Judicial Reforms

In news: Pardoning Power of the President

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pardoning Powers of president and governor

Mains level : Not Much

The Supreme Court has held that the Centre was “bound to advise” the President to remit the life sentence of gangster Abu Salem in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case on his completion of 25 years of his jail term.

What did the SC say?

  • On the appellant completing 25 years of his sentence, the Central government is bound to advise the President for the exercise of his powers under Article 72 of the Constitution.
  • The Centre could itself consider remission on the completion of 25 years’ sentence in terms of Sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

What is Pardon?

  • A pardon is a government/executive decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offense as if the act never occurred.

Why need Pardon?

  • Pardons can be granted when individuals are deemed to have demonstrated that they have “paid their debt to society”, or are otherwise considered to be deserving of them.
  • Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who were either wrongfully convicted or who claim that they were wrongfully convicted.
  • Pardons are sometimes seen as a mechanism for combating corruption, allowing a particular authority to circumvent a flawed judicial process to free someone that is seen as wrongly convicted.

What is the Article 72?

  • Article 72 says that 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 offense.
  • There are five different types of pardoning:
  1. Pardon: means completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free. The pardoned criminal will be like a normal citizen.
  2. Commutation: means changing the type of punishment given to the guilty into a less harsh one, for example, a death penalty commuted to a life sentence.
  3. Reprieve: means a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence, for a guilty person to allow him some time to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy to prove his innocence or successful rehabilitation.
  4. Respite: means reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
  5. Remission: means changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature, for example reducing twenty year rigorous imprisonment to ten years.

Cases as specified by art. 72

In all cases where the punishment or sentence:

  • is by a court-martial
  • is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends
  • is a sentence of death

Nature of the Pardoning Power

  • The pardoning power of the president is not absolute. It is governed by the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • This has not been discussed by the constitution but is the practical truth.
  • Further, the constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of presidents or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
  • But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar Case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.
  • The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive.

Some traditions

  • It is important to note that India has a unitary legal system and there is no separate body of state law.
  • All crimes are crimes against the Union of India.
  • Therefore, a convention has developed that the governor’s powers are exercised for only minor offenses.
  • While requests for pardons and reprieves for major offenses and offenses committed in the UTs are deferred to the President.

Try this PYQ:

Who/Which of the following is the custodian of the Constitution of India?

(a) The President of India

(b) The Prime Minister of India

(c) The Lok Sabha Secretariat

(d) The Supreme Court of India

 

Post your answers here.
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Vikram Gupta
Vikram Gupta
2 months ago
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d

Geetanjali Basumatary
Geetanjali Basumatary
2 months ago
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D

Sanju Kumari
Sanju Kumari
2 months ago
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D

Neethi Varman
Neethi Varman
2 months ago
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D) The Supreme Court of India

Y L
Y L
2 months ago
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d

Ebin Eldhose
Ebin Eldhose
2 months ago
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d

vibhu singh
vibhu singh
2 months ago
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D

antony stark
antony stark
2 months ago
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d