Top

How far does the power to pardon in India go?

How far does the power to pardon in India go?
Highlights

Amid a growing clamour for clemency for Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been ordered by the Supreme Court to return to jail to complete a...

Amid a growing clamour for clemency for Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been ordered by the Supreme Court to return to jail to complete a five-year sentence in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, the man in question has said that he has not sought any pardon and will surrender in time. Despite his statement, former Chief Justice Katju, who kickstarted the debate, has said he would go ahead with this issue and seek a pardon for Dutt. Vicky Nanjappa elaborates on this oft-debated subject. The most common cases for clemency are those of life sentences granted by the Supreme Court in which state governments often grant pardon on account of good behaviour. This has led the Supreme Court to state clearly in some of its verdicts that there shall be no pardon or reduction of sentence and a life convict would spend the rest of his life in jail. Articles 72 and 161 of the Indian Constitution deal with the laws governing to the grant of pardon. These powers vested with the President or the governor could be either absolute or conditional in nature. Under the absolute grant of pardon, an accused is absolved of the guilt, while in the case of conditional pardon, there are certain obligations that an accused would need to fulfill. The President or the governor could look into the issue of pardon while considering the public good to save an innocent person and with the hope that pardon could act as an incentive for him or her to behave in future. 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: (a) In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial; (b) In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends; (c) In all cases where the verdict is a death sentence.
Supreme Court citations
In the 1981 Maru Ram Vs Union of India case the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that the power under Article 72 should be exercised on the advice of the central government and not by the President on his own. "The power under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution can be exercised by the central and state governments, not by the President or governor on their own. The advice of the appropriate government binds the head of the state. In the Kehar Singh & Ors Vs the state (Indira Gandhi assassination) case, the Supreme Court held that pardon by the President is an act of grace and, therefore, cannot be claimed as a matter of right. The power exercisable by the President being exclusively of administrative nature, is not justifiable. Granting of clemency by the President or the governor can be challenged on the following grounds as per this order of the Supreme Court: The order has been passed without application of mind, the order is mala fide, the order has been passed on extraneous or wholly irrelevant considerations, relevant material has been kept out of consideration and the order suffers from arbitrariness.
Show Full Article
Print Article

Download The Hans India Android App or iOS App for the Latest update on your phone.
Subscribed Failed...
Subscribed Successfully...
Next Story
More Stories