Under Article 72, President has been conferred with the power to grant pardon against punishment for an offense against union law, punishment by a martial court, or death sentence.
Note: Pardoning powers of the president include the following types:
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 offense where the sentence is a sentence of death.
The President cannot exercise his power of pardon independently of the government.
In several cases, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the President has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers while deciding mercy pleas.
These include Maru Ram vs Union of India in 1980, and Dhananjoy Chatterjee vs State of West Bengal in 1994.
Rashtrapati Bhawan forwards the mercy plea to the Home Ministry, seeking the Cabinet’s advice.
The Ministry in turn forwards this to the concerned state government; based on the reply, it formulates its advice on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
Although the President is bound by the Cabinet’s advice, Article 74 (1) empowers him to return it for reconsideration once.
If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.
Under Article 161, the Governor in India to has pardoning powers.
Difference Between Pardoning Powers of President and Governor:
The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161 which differs in the following two ways:
Court Martial: 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.
Death sentence: The President can grant a pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completelyabsolves the convict from all sentences, punishments, and disqualifications.
Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
Remission: It implies reducing the period of a sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
Read Also: Private Member’s Bill
Art 142 pardoning power,Art 142 pardoning power