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Governors can pardon prisoners: Supreme Court of India

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Supreme Court of India on August 3, 2021, held that the Governor of state can pardon prisoners, including in the death sentence cases. Governor can pardon the prisoners even before they have completed a minimum of 14 years of prison sentence. Court also said that the Governor’s power to pardon overrides a provision given under Section 433A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

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Court noted, the sovereign power of the Governor to pardon prisoner under Article 161 is exercised by the State government and not the Governor on his own, in reality. Article 161 of the Indian constitution provides the Governor of a State with the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or to remit punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against laws.

About the Section 433A:

Section 433A mandates that the sentence of the prisoner can be remitted only after 14 years of jail. The court observed that Section 433-A of the Code cannot and does not affect the constitutional power of the President or Governor to grant pardon under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution. Such power is in the exercise of the power of the sovereign. However, Governor will have to act on the aid and advice of the State Government.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Supreme Court of India Established: 26 January 1950;
  • Chief Justice of India Justice: NV Ramana.

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