Can the power of the President and a governor to pardon or to reduce the sentence of a convict be taken away by any law?
The Supreme Court is to decide the issue while examining the validity of Section 32A of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, which says no suspension, remission or commutation in sentence awarded under this Act is allowed.
Considering the importance of issue involved, a bench of justices BS Chauhan and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla referred the matter to a larger bench.
The court passed the order while hearing an appeal filed by one Krishnan and others, convicted under NDPS Act, challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court's order which held that he was not entitled to any remission in view of the provisions of Section 32-A of the Act.
"We are of the opinion that the matter requires to be considered by a larger bench, either by a three judges' bench first or by a five judges' bench directly. The papers may be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders," the bench said.
Section 32A of NDPS Act says notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or any other law for the time being in force but subject to the provisions of Section 33, no sentence awarded under this Act (other than Section 27) shall be suspended or remitted or commuted.
Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution empower the President of India and the governor of a state to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishments or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence under any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union and state exists.