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Mercy plea:

GS Paper 2:

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



The Supreme Court has advised the Union government to release the convict in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case, as he already served a sentence of more than three decades.


What next?

  • The Supreme Court has advised the Union government to act against the Tamil Nadu Governor who chose to “ignore” the State Cabinet’s binding advice to release a convict.


What’s the issue?

The Governor ignored the state cabinet’s advice by highlighting that the President had the authority to decide on the mercy plea.


Current Affairs


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 the sentence of death but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.


Significance of pardoning powers:

  • The pardoning power of the Executive is very significant as it corrects the errors of the 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.