What is pardoning power of the President?

Q.  Match the following correctly -
A. Pardon1. Lighter form of sentence.
B. Reprieve2. Lesser sentence due to special fact.
C. Respite3. Stay of sentence execution.
D. Commute4. Remove sentence and conviction.

- Published on 28 Feb 17

a. A-4, B-3, C-2, D-1
b. A-2, B-1, C-4, D-3
c. A-4, B-1, C-2, D-3
d. A-2, B-3, C-4, D-1

ANSWER: A-4, B-3, C-2, D-1
    Article 72 - 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.

  • This pardoning power of the President is an executive power and is independent of the Judiciary.

  • But, while exercising this power the President does not sit as a court of appeal.

  • The reasons to confer this power are -

    (a) to keep the door open for correcting any judicial errors in the operation of law; and

    (b) to afford relief from a sentence, which the President regards as unduly harsh.

    The pardoning power includes -

    Pardon -

  • Pardon removes both the sentence and the conviction.

  • It completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.

  • Commutation -

  • Commutation means lighter form of punishment.

  • It means substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form.

  • E.g., a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment etc.

  • Remission -

  • It means reducing the period of sentence.

  • Here the character of the sentence is not changed.

  • E.g., a sentence of 3 year rigorous imprisonment may be remitted to 2 year rigorous imprisonment.

  • Respite -

  • It means awarding a lesser sentence in place of the original harsh one due to some special circumstance or fact.

  • Special fact can be physical disability of a convict; pregnancy of a woman offender etc.

  • Reprieve -

  • Reprieve means a stay of the execution of a sentence for a temporary period.

  • It is especially seen for death sentences.

  • Its aim is to allow the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.

  • The Supreme Court on examining pardoning power of the President laid down the following principles -

    1. Mercy petitioner has no right to an oral hearing by the President.

    2. The President can examine the evidence afresh. He can take a different view from the view taken by court.

    3. The power is to be exercised by the President on the advice of the union cabinet.

    4. The President is not bound to give reasons for his order.

    5. The President can afford relief not only from a sentence that he regards as unduly harsh but also from an evident mistake.

    6. There is no need for the Supreme Court to lay down specific guidelines for the exercise of power by the President.

    7. The exercise of power by the President is not subject to judicial review except where the presidential decision is arbitrary, irrational, malafide or discriminatory.

    8. Where the earlier petition for mercy has been rejected by the President, stay cannot be obtained by filing another petition.

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