|Religion, caste, political loyalty irrelevant|
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that the power of pardon, clemency, reprieve or remission of sentence to a convict exercised by the President or the Governor is subject to judicial review.
"The power of executive clemency is not only for the benefit of the convict but while exercising such a power the President or the Governor has to keep in mind the effect of his decision on the family of the victims, the society as a whole and the precedent it sets for the future," Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia said in separate but concurrent judgments on Wednesday.
The Bench said: "It can no longer be said that prerogative power is ipso facto immune from judicial review. An undue exercise of this power is to be deplored. Considerations of religion, caste or political loyalty are irrelevant and fraught with discrimination. These are prohibited grounds. Rule of law is the basis for evaluation of all decisions."
Setting aside an order passed by the former Andhra Pradesh Governor remitting imprisonment awarded to Congress leader Gouru Venkata Reddy, the Bench said the "exercise of Executive clemency is a matter of discretion and yet subject to certain standards. It is not a matter of privilege. It is a matter of performance of official duty. It is vested in the President or the Governor, as the case may be, not for the benefit of the convict only but for the welfare of the people who may insist on the performance of the duty."
The ruling assumes importance in the context of representations made to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam seeking clemency for Mohammad Afzal, sentenced to death in the Parliament attack case.
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