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Prez' power to pardon under scanner

SC mulls laying down parameters to be adhered to by president and governors for granting pardon to convicts.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2006 23:08 IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated it would examine laying down broad parameters and requirements to be adhered to by the president and state governors for granting pardon or remission of sentence to convicts.

A bench of judges Arijit Pasayat and SH Kapadia was hearing a petition filed by Epuru Sudhakar challenging the pardon granted by the Andhra Pradesh governor to a Congress leader convicted to 10 years imprisonment in a murder case.

In February, the bench had appointed former attorney general and senior counsel Soli Sorabjee as an amicus curiae to assist the court to decide the important questions involved in this petition.

The bench had directed the Andhra Pradesh government to produce in a sealed cover the entire original records pertaining to the grant of pardon to Gowru Venkata Reddy.

When the matter was taken up on Wednesday, the state government submitted the records and the judges examined them.

Sorabjee cited various case laws to show that the power of pardon, commutation and remission of sentence by the president or a governor was subject to judicial review. He said such a power should not be exercised arbitrarily; otherwise it would become a mockery.

He said the important questions to be considered while granting pardon were: the interest of society and the convict, period of imprisonment undergone and the remaining period, seriousness of the offence, age of the prisoner and the reasonable expectation of his longevity, health of the prisoner especially any serious illness from which he might be suffering, good prison record, post-conviction conduct, character and reputation, remorse and atonement and deference to public opinion.

Quoting various decisions, Sorabjee said the power of pardon should be exercised on public considerations alone. An undue exercise of the pardoning power should be deplored, as it would be a blow on law and order and an additional hardship upon society in its conflict with crime and criminals.

He wanted the court to lay down broad principles and criteria to guide the exercise or non-exercise of the pardon power.

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