Pardoning Powers of President and Governor

Power of President to grant pardons

Article 72 of the Constitution of India-Power of President to grant pardons, etc., and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases-

(1) 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 sentence is a sentence of death.

(2) Nothing in sub-clause(a) of clause(1) shall affect the power conferred by law on any officer of the Armed Forces of the Union to suspend, remit or commute a sentence passed by a Court Martial.

(3) Nothing in sub-clause (c) of clause (1) shall affect the power to suspend, remit or commute a sentence of death exercisable by the Governor of a State under any law for the time being in force.

Power of Governor to grant pardons

Article 161 of the Constitution of India-Power of Governor to grant pardons,etc., and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.-

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 offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.

Court decisions:-

(i) The power under Article 161 is a statutory power which can’t be fettered by position such as section 432,433,433A of the Indian Penal Code,1860.

– State of Punjab v. Joginder, AIR1990 SC 1396.

(ii) The power of granting pardon under Article 161 is very wide and do not contain any limitation as to the time on which and the occasion on which and the circumstances in which the said power could be exercised. But the said power being a constitutional power is amenable to judicial review on certain limited grounds. The court, therefore, would be justified in interfering with an order passed by the Governor in the exercise of power under Article 161 of the Constitution. If the Governor is found to have exercised the power himself without being advised by the Government or if the Governor transgresses the jurisdiction in exercising the same or it is established that the Governor has passed the order without application of mind or the order in question is a mala fide one or the Governor has passed the order on some extraneous consideration.

– Satpal v.State of Haryana, AIR 2000 SC 1702

The meaning of these terms 

Pardon: Complete pardon 

Reprieve: Temporary suspension of sentence 

Respite: awarding less sentence Remission: Reducing amount of sentence 

Commutation: Changing one punishment to another

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