Article 72 – Presidents Power to Pardon
Mohammad Taj, the 12-year-old son of the death row convict Shabnam Ali, has urged President Ram Nath Kovind to commute the death sentence of his mother.
Shabnam was sentenced to death for killing her seven family members including a baby in 2008 as they opposed her relationship with her paramour in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh. Shabnam could be the first-ever woman convict to be hanged in independent India. The woman is currently lodged in Rampur jail.
President’s powers to pardon
Under Article 72 of the Constitution, 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 where the sentence is a sentence of death.
In the Constitution, no provision has been made to question the validity of the decision relating to the mercy jurisdiction of the President or the Governor.
Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves 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 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
Comparison of pardon powers of President and Governor:
The President’s pardon powers extend to matters relating to the punishment or court martial awarded by the Army Court, whereas, under Article 161, the Governor has no such power.
The President may grant pardon in all matters relating to the death penalty whereas; the Governor’s pardoning power does not extend to the matters relating to the death penalty.
Source – Indian Express