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Who wields the power to pardon?

  • Published
    27th May, 2022

Ordering the release of A.G. Perarivalan, the Supreme Court ruled that a Governor is bound by the State government’s advice in matters relating to commutation/remission of sentences under Article 161. It has raised questions on governor’s constitutional duty, federalism, and undue delay by the Supreme Court.

Governor’s responsibilities and SC use of Article 142

  • Work on advice of the state’s cabinet: As per the Constitution, the decision of a State cabinet is binding on the Governor. The cabinet represents the people. So, people control the decisions. If the people do not like the cabinet’s decisions, they will vote the government out. The cabinet’s decisions are subject to judicial scrutiny.
  • Maintaining federal spirit: Article 161 is more about the Governor’s duty, rather than power. The Governor is generally bound by the cabinet decision. This does not, however, mean that even an arbitrary decision by the cabinet would bind the Governor.
  • Use of Article 142: If the Governor does not do his job, the court can pass appropriate orders. In such circumstances, the court is empowered under Article 142 to do complete justice. After all, the judiciary is the final arbiter of the Constitution.
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