Pardoning Power of President


According to Article 72 of the Constitution, the President has the authority to pardon individuals who have been tried and found guilty of any crime, provided that the following pardoning power of president conditions are met:

  1. The punishment or sentence is for a violation of a Union Law;
  2. The punishment or sentence is by a court martial (military court); and
  3. The sentence is a death sentence.

The president’s ability to pardon is an executive power that is separate from the judiciary. The President does not, however, act as an appeals court while exercising this authority. The President is granted this authority for two reasons:

(a) to allow for the correction of any judicial mistakes in the administration of justice; and

(b) to provide relief from a sentence that the President deems to be too harsh.

The following are among the President’s pardoning powers:

  1. Pardon : It entirely exonerates the offender of all sentences, punishments, and disqualifications and cancels both the sentence and the conviction.
  2. Communication : It means that a harsher kind of punishment has been replaced with a less severe one.
    For instance, a death sentence could be changed to rigorous imprisonment and then to simple imprisonment.
  3. Remission : It refers to shortening the term of the sentence without altering its nature. For instance, a sentence of two years of hard labor could be reduced to one year of hard labor.
  4. Relieve: It refers to substituting a reduced sentence for one that was initially imposed owing to a unique circumstance, such as a convict’s physical impairment or a woman offender’s pregnancy.
  5. Permission: It suggests a temporary postponement of the execution of a sentence, particularly the death penalty. Its goal is to provide the prisoner enough time to ask the President for a pardon or commutation of sentence.
    The governor of a state has the authority to pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution. As a result, the governor has the authority to commute sentences, postpone sentences, give reprieves, and pardon anyone who have been convicted of violating state laws. However, the governor’s pardoning authority differs from the President’s in the following two ways:
  • Unlike the governor, the president has the authority to commute court martial (military court) penalties.
  • The governor cannot commute a death sentence, but the president may. Even if a state statute calls for the death penalty, it is the President, not the governor, who has the authority to commute the sentence.
    However, the governor has the authority to commute, remit, or suspend a death sentence. In terms of the suspension, remission, and commute of a death sentence, the governor and the President have concurrent authority.

The following guidelines were established by the Supreme Court after it considered the President’s pardoning authority in several cases:

  1. The petitioner for compassion is not entitled to a presidential oral hearing.
  2. The President has the right to reexamine the material and reach a different conclusion than the court did.
  3. The President will exercise the authority on the union cabinet’s advice.
  4. The President is exempt from having to justify his decision.
  5. The President is entitled to release from both a sentence that he deems to be too harsh and from a clear error.
  6. The Supreme Court does not need to establish explicit rules for the President’s use of his or her authority.
  7. The President’s use of his or her authority is not subject to judicial scrutiny unless the decision was made in an unfair or discriminatory manner.
  8. In cases where the President has rejected a previous appeal for compassion, another petition cannot be filed to gain a delay.


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