President has no role to play in Perarivalan’s plea, says Supreme Court

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has disagreed with the Central government’s suggestion that the court should wait till the President took a call on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case convict mercy plea referred to him by the Tamil Nadu Governor for a decision.

What was the case about?

In 2018, the Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers recommended to the Governor to release Perarivalan, the convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The Governor referred the matter to the President. Against this delay in release, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court.

What did the Supreme Court rule?

The Supreme Court said that the ​​pertinent question was whether the Governor had in the first place the authority to refer the mercy plea to the President.

This is because, under Article 161 of the Constitution, the Governor was bound by the aid and advice given by the Council of Ministers.

This means that the Governor prima facie had no authority to transfer the mercy plea to the President.

In case, the governor disagrees with the state cabinet’s decision to release him, he can at most send it back to the cabinet but cannot forward it to the President.

What is Pardon?

A pardon is a government/executive decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offence as if the act never occurred.

Pardoning Powers of Governor and President

The President and Governor exercised two distinct powers of mercy under Articles 72 and 161, respectively.

The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161.

The power differs in the following two ways

– The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.

– The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death, but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

Source: The post is based on the article “President has no role to play in Perarivalan’s plea, says Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 5th May 2022. 

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