Governor can't take decision independently: experts

  • Mohan K Korappath, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • |
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2013 02:11 IST

Actor Sanjay Dutt seems to be getting support from various quarters following the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday.

While press council chairman justice Markandey Katju has written to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan, Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan and southern superstar Rajinikanth have also sought pardon for the actor.

Dutt's case is being compared to that of KM Nanavati, a Naval commander, who was granted pardon in a murder case by the then Governor Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit.

However, legal experts said times had changed and it would now be difficult for the governor to give in to the request. 

Ravi Kadam, former Maharashtra state advocate general, said earlier the governor could have acted on his discretion without raising eyebrows. "But now he will be answerable and have to explain his reason even if he has the power to do so," Kadam said.

Criminal lawyer Arfan Sait said the governor had to exercise his decision fairly and on advice of the council of ministers. "His decision can be challenged by way of a public interest litigation. Even the state government can move court," he said.

According to experts, pardon pleas can't be subjected to any deadlines.

"There is no fixed procedure to be followed in such matters," said Sait.

The aggrieved person or anyone on his behalf can file for pardon under Article 161 of the Constitution of India.

Justice Suresh Hosbet, former Bombay high court judge, explained that the governor alone couldn't act on the application for pardon as he will have to consult with a council of ministers before deciding on the issue.

Sometimes in a case, if the judge feels so, he can make an observation in the judgment that the government can consider a plea for pardon, even though the court has given a minimum sentence since the offence has been proved, Hosbet pointed out.


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