Judicial Pendency

SC orders release of all convicts in Ex-PM Assassin Case


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pardoning Powers of president and governor

Mains level: Read the attached story


The Supreme Court has ordered for the immediate release of six convicts who are serving life sentence for more than three decades in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

What is the news?

  • The Bench referred to the case of their former co-convict G. Perarivalan, who was granted premature release by the apex court this year in exercise of its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

What does Pardon mean?

  • 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 a 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 does Article 161 say?

  • Article 161 of the Constitution provides the Governor with the power to remit or commute the sentence of any prisoner.
  • The Governor’s decision will be subject to judicial review by the constitutional courts.
  • The advice of the State Cabinet is binding on the Governor in matters relating to commutation/remission of sentences under Article 161.

Why did the Supreme Court intervene here?

  • In its judgment in the Perarivalan case in May, the apex court had held that the State Cabinet’s advice was binding on the Governor under Article 161 (Governor’s power of clemency) of the Constitution.
  • The Governor had no business forwarding the pardon pleas to the President after sitting on it for years together.

Back2Basics: Article 142

  • Article 142 provides discretionary power to the Supreme Court.
  • It states that the court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.
  • Such decree shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament.
  • It is usually used in cases involving human rights and environmental protection.


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