A pardon is a decision by the government or the executive branch to relieve a person of culpability for an alleged crime or other legal offence as though the act never happened.
Why do you need a pardon?
Individuals may be awarded pardons if they have proved that they have “paid their debt to society” or are otherwise deemed deserving.
Pardons are occasionally granted to people who were unfairly convicted or allege to have been wrongfully convicted.
Pardons are sometimes viewed as a means of combatting corruption, allowing a specific authority to bypass a broken legal procedure in order to release someone who has been wrongfully condemned.
The President of India has the right to give pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment, as well as to suspend, remit, or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence if the sentence is a death sentence, according to Article 72 of the Constitution.
There are five main types of pardons that are legally required.
1. Pardoning someone means entirely absolving them of their wrongdoing and allowing them to go free. The pardoned felon will be treated as if he or she were a regular citizen.
2. Commutation refers to the process of changing the sort of punishment meted out to the guilty into a less severe one, such as a death sentence being commuted to a life term.
3. A guilty person is granted a reprieve from the execution of a punishment, usually a death sentence, to allow him time to ask for a Presidential Pardon or other legal remedy to show his innocence or effective rehabilitation.
4. Respite refers to a reduction in the severity or amount of a criminal’s sentence due to unusual circumstances such as pregnancy, mental illness, or other factors.
5. Remission refers to lowering the severity of a penalty without affecting its nature, such as decreasing a twenty-year sentence to ten years of hard incarceration.
Art. 72 specifies the kind of cases that can be made.
1. In all circumstances where the punishment or sentence is imposed by a court martial;
2. in all cases where the penalty or sentence is imposed for a violation of any law relating to an issue over which the Union’s executive power has jurisdiction;
3. in all cases when the sentence is a death sentence.
The Pardoning Power’s Characteristics
• The question is whether the President’s power to grant pardon is absolute or if it must be utilised on the suggestion of the Council of Ministers.
• The president’s power to pardon is limited. The Council of Ministers advises it.
• The constitution does not address this issue, yet it is a practical reality.
• Furthermore, there is no process under the constitution for challenging the constitutionality of decisions made by the President or governors exercising mercy power.
• However, in the Epuru Sudhakar case, the Supreme Court created a tiny window for judicial review of the President’s and governors’ pardon powers in order to rule out any arbitrariness.
• The court has previously decided that it retains the power of judicial review even when the matter is solely vested in the Executive by the Constitution.
The pardoning power is based on the consideration of the public interest and is to be used for the public good. In circumstances of wrongful conviction or miscarriage of justice, a pardon may be very helpful in preventing an innocent person from being punished. The prospect of being pardoned serves as an incentive for the criminal to conduct well in jail, and thus aids in the resolution of the prison discipline problem.