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Governor is a shorthand for State govt: SC

Published: 27th May, 2022


The Governor of a State is “but a shorthand expression for the State government” while exercising powers of clemency under Article 161 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court said in its judgment releasing Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A.G. Perarivalan recently.


Key observations made by SC in Perarivalan Case:

  • SC highlighted that the Governor’s powers are qualified by the constitutional mandate, chiefly requiring them to act in aid and advice of the council of ministers.
  • Supreme Court clearly demarcated the spheres of powers of not only the Governor but also that of a state government to dispel the daze, citing the pertinent constitutional provisions.
  • The Apex Court further reckoned that the reference made by the Governor to the President was contrary to the scheme of the Constitution.
  • The advice of the State Cabinet is binding on the Governor in matters relating to commutation / remission of sentences under Article 161.
  • In the instant case, the Governor ought not to have sent the recommendation made by the State Cabinet to the President of India.
  • Such action is contrary to the constitutional scheme elaborated above.
  • As per Article 161, the Governor of a State shall have 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.
  • Governor occupies the position of the head of the executive in the State but it is virtually the Council of Ministers in each State that carries on the executive Government.
  • The court also pointed out that the Council of Ministers is “a hyphen which joins, a buckle which fastens the legislative part of the State to the executive part”.
  • SC observed that Perarivalan was considered to have served his sentence in exercise of their “power under Article 142 of the Constitution'' and ordered his release.

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