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Mercy plea of Rajiv case convict

Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Mercy plea of Rajiv case convict:


Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has told the Supreme Court that a decision on the mercy petition of AG Perarivalan- a convict serving a life sentence for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, will be taken within four weeks.

What’s the issue?

The petition has been pending with the Governor since December 30, 2015.

  • Citing inaction on part of the Governor in deciding on his clemency plea moved under Article 161 of the Constitution, Perarivalan has come to Supreme Court for passing necessary directions.

What is Article 161?


Article 161 gives the Governor the “power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends”.

Article 72 vs Article 161:

The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161.

The power differs in the following two ways:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Significance of pardoning powers:

  • The pardoning power of Executive is very significant as it corrects the errors of judiciary. It eliminates the effect of conviction without addressing the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
  • Pardon may substantially help in saving an innocent person from being punished due to miscarriage of justice or in cases of doubtful conviction.
  • The object of pardoning power is to correct possible judicial errors, for no human system of judicial administration can be free from imperfections.


Prelims Link:

  1. About Article 161.
  2. Article 72.
  3. Pardoning powers of President vs Governors.
  4. Advice of Cabinet to Governor on such matters.
  5. Interference by Courts- Judicial Review.

Mains Link:

Write a note on the Pardoning powers of the President.

Sources: the Hindu.