Context: The Supreme Court recently said the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) investigation into the “larger conspiracy” behind Rajiv Gandhi assassination in 1991 need not deter the Tamil Nadu Governor from deciding the plea for pardon of convicts.
More on the news: According to SC, a larger conspiracy probe is only to prove if any other people are involved. It is not for the people already convicted.
Pardoning power of the governor: Article 161
- The Governor of a State has 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.
- It must be related to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
- Death sentence: It should be noted that the President can grant pardon to a person awarded death sentence. But a governor of a state does not enjoy this power.
- Pardon: It means completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free. The pardoned criminal will be like a normal citizen.
- Commutation: means changing the type of punishment given to the guilty into a less harsh one, for example, a death penalty commuted to a life sentence.
- Reprieve: It means a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence, for a guilty person to allow him some time to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy to prove his innocence or successful rehabilitation.
- Respite: It means reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
- Remission: It means changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature, for example reducing twenty year rigorous imprisonment to ten years.