Recent Supreme Court decision on mercy petition of AG Perarivalan

Rajiv Gandhi 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.

  • 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.

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:

  • 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.

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