The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the government has “absolute” and “unfettered” power to grant clemency to convicts and can grant relief even before one completes the mandatory incarceration period.
“It is evident that the clemency power of the executive is absolute and remains unfettered for the reason that the provisions contained under Article 72 (President’s power) or 161 (Governor’s power) of the Constitution cannot be restricted by the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code,” a three judge bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishanan said.
“Even if a life convict does not satisfy the requirement of remission rules/short sentencing schemes, there can be no prohibition for the President or the Governor of the State, as the case may be, to exercise the power of clemency under the provisions of Article 72 and 161 of the Constitution,” the court said.
The Court passed the order on a reference made by Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had referred the matter to it after inconsistency on the rules governing clemency.
“To say that clemency power under Articles 72/161 of the Constitution cannot be exercised by the President or the Governor, as the case may be, before a convict completes the incarceration period provided in the short-sentencing policy, even in an exceptional case, would be mutually inconsistent with the theory that clemency power is unfettered,” the bench said.