The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to grant Special Remission to Prisoners as part of Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
State Governments and UT Administrations will be advised to constitute a Committee to examine the cases. State Governments will place the recommendations of the Committee before Governor for consideration and approval under Article 161 of the Constitution. After the approval, the prisoners will be released.
What do you need to know?
Article 161 deals with Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
It states 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.
The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161. The power differs in the following two ways:
The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
The President can grant a pardon in all cases where the sentence gave is the sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
The pardoning power of Executive is very significant as it corrects the errors of the judiciary. It eliminates the effect of conviction without addressing the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
Pardon may substantially help in saving an innocent person from being punished due to the miscarriage of justice or in cases of doubtful conviction.
The object of pardoning power is to correct possible judicial errors, for no human system of judicial administration can be free from imperfections.
The process of granting pardon is simpler but because of the lethargy of the government and political considerations, disposal of mercy petitions is delayed. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make amendment in the law of pardoning to make sure that clemency petitions are disposed of quickly. There should be a fixed time limit for deciding on clemency pleas.