Process on to commute Rajoana sentence: MHA

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News:The process to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for killing former Punjab chief minister is underway.

Facts:

Pardoning powers of the President:

  • Indian President is empowered with the power to pardon under Article 72 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 72:Article 72 says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, remit or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.

  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence by a court martial;
  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  • in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Different Pardoning Powers:

  • Commutation- Commutation means substitution of one form of punishment with a lighter form.For example Rigorous imprisonment may be commuted to simple imprisonment.
  • Pardon –A Pardon removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all the sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
  • Reprieve – Reprieve implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period.Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
  • Respite – Respite denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special facts such as the physical disability of convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
  • Remissions –  Remission means the reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, for example, a sentence of 1 year may be remitted to 6 months.In other words,it reduces the period of sentence, but the character of punishment remains same.

The pardoning power of President is wider than the governor and it 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 sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.