The constitutional power of the executive to grant pardon to convicts cannot be exercised by the apex court unless there is a violation of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court held on Wednesday.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said that Article 32 can only be invoked when there is violation of any fundamental right or in the “realm of public interest litigation”.
“The argument that when a pardon or remission can be given under Article 72 (by President) or 161 (by Governor) of the Constitution by the constitutional authority, this court can exercise the similar power under Article 32 of the Constitution, is absolutely based on an erroneous premise.
“Article 32, as has been interpreted and stated by the Constitution Bench and well settled in law, can be only invoked when there is violation of any fundamental right or where the Court takes up certain grievance which falls in the realm of public interest litigation,” the bench said.
The observation came on the pleas of some persons convicted under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act who were seeking grant of remission of their 10- year sentence as the relief was not available to them under the New Punjab Jail Manual of 1996.
The convicts had said that the relief was denied to them as section 32-A of the NDPS Act bars entitlement to such remission.
The apex court said the factual matrix of the case “does not remotely suggest” that there has been violation of any fundamental right of the petitioners and thus, their plea to invoke Article 142 (enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court) of the Constitution, along with Article 32, was “absolutely fallacious”.
“The petitioners have invoked the power of this court to grant the benefit of remission in exercise of power under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. Speaking plainly, the prayer is totally misconceived,” the bench said and dismissed their petition.