Supreme Court rules that the governor’s pardon power takes precedence over 433A
The Supreme Court ruled that a state’s governor can pardon inmates, including those on death row, even if they have not completed a minimum of 14 years in prison.
In fact, a Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and A.S. Bopanna remarked in a judgement that the Governor’s ability to pardon overcomes a clause in the Code of Criminal Procedure-Section 433A-that states that a prisoner’s sentence can only be commuted after 14 years in prison.
- If the prisoner has not served 14 years or more of actual imprisonment, the Governor has the power to grant pardon, despite the restrictions imposed by Section 433A, such power is in exercise of the constitutional power conferred on the President/Governor to grant pardon under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution.
- In reality, the court pointed out that the State government, not the Governor, has the sovereign jurisdiction to pardon a prisoner under Article 161. In the opinion, Justice Gupta noted that the competent government’s advice binds the Head of State, referring to the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench decision on the power of remission in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
- The commutation and release action can thus be based on a governmental decision, and the order can be issued even if the Governor has not given his consent. The court emphasized that, under the Rules of Business and as a matter of constitutional courtesy, it may seek the Governor’s approval if the release is made under Article 161 of the Constitution. Haryana’s remission policies were being considered by the Bench.
Governor’s Judicial Powers
The governor has the following judicial powers and functions:
- He/she can grant pardons, reprieves, respites, and remissions of punishment, as well as suspend, remit, and commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the state’s executive power extends.
- When the president appoints the judges of the concerned state high court, he consults him.
- He consults with the state high court before appointing, posting, and promoting district judges.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 ( Governor)