SUPREME COURT REITERATES THAT RESTRICTIONS ON SPECIAL REMISSION POWERS DO NOT APPLY TO GOVERNORS OF STATE

The three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the recent case of Pyare Lal vs State of Haryana passed a Judgment dated 17-07-2020 and held that restrictions imposed under Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 on the powers to grant special #remission to certain category of #convicts, would not apply to the #constitutional powers exercised by the #Governors and #President of #India.

In the present case, the Appellant, aged about 75 years, was convicted for an #offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (#IPC), whereby, he was undergoing life imprisonment for a period of 14 years. The Government of Haryana had passed an Order dated 02-08-2019, whereby, the Governor of #Haryana could exercise his powers under Article 161 of the #Constitution of India 1950 to grant special remission to certain category of convicts including those who have been sentenced for life imprisonment and are aged 75 years or above, have completed 8 years of actual sentence in case of male convicts and 6 years of actual sentence in case of female convicts and who have had satisfactory conduct in jail, etc. Thus, as the Appellant fulfilled the said criteria, he was prematurely released in 2019. Thereafter, the Appellant filed an Application for Bail in the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court made the following observations about premature release of criminals convicted with an offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC, i.e. punishment for murder, as per the Order of Haryana Government dated 02-08-2019:

1- That Section 433 A of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 provides for certain restrictions of the powers of remission in cases, where a sentence of imprisonment for life is imposed on convict for an offence for which death is one of the punishments provided by law. But the Supreme Court held that such kind of restrictions on powers of remission would not apply to sovereign and constitutional powers of the Governor and the President of India.

2- That before exercising the powers to grant of special remission to a convict under Article 161 of the Constitution of India, the Governor need not check into the severity of the crime committed by the offendor or the impact such a crime had on the society, unless specific facts were placed before him.

3- In this present case, the Government of Haryana did not place before the Governor the specific facts, details, nature and severity of the crime committed by the Appellant, as a result of which the Governor simply granted remission to the Appellant.

But as the State of Haryana argued that while passing the Government Order dated 02-08-2019, they relied upon earlier Supreme Court Judgments including Maru Ram vs Union of India (1981) 1 SCC 107, where the 5-Judge Constitution Bench laid down that the State need not create a separate order for each case, but to only create a general order to identify a group of cases for the purpose of deciding whether to grant special remission or not.

Thus, the Apex Court referred this matter to a larger bench to decide the correctness of exercise of powers by the Governor in this matter.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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