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RED FORT CASE: PRESIDENT’S MERCY POWER



  Jun 21, 2024

RED FORT CASE: PRESIDENT’S MERCY POWER



Art. 72: President's Power to Pardon

This constitutional provision empowers the President of India to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment, or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense. This power is a safeguard against possible judicial errors and a means to provide relief in cases of unduly harsh sentences.
Rationale:

The rationale behind this power is twofold:

To correct judicial errors: No judicial system is infallible, and there might be instances where an innocent person is wrongly convicted or the punishment awarded is disproportionate to the crime. The President's power to pardon acts as a safety valve to correct such errors.

To show mercy: There might be cases where the circumstances of the crime or the convict warrant a lighter sentence or a complete pardon. The President's power allows for such mercy to be exercised.

Case History:

Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab (1980): While upholding the constitutionality of the death penalty, the Supreme Court laid down the "rarest of rare" doctrine, limiting the death penalty to exceptional cases.

Maru Ram v. Union of India (1980): The Supreme Court held that the President's power to pardon is to be exercised on the advice of the Council of Ministers and not by the President's own discretion.

Kehar Singh v. Union of India (1989): The court reiterated that the President's power is not a parallel court of appeal and should not be used to bypass the judicial process.

Shatrughan Chauhan v. State of U.P. (2014): The court commuted the sentences of prisoners due to inordinate delays in deciding their mercy petitions, highlighting the need for timely disposal of such petitions.

In the Red Fort case, the President's rejection of Mohammad Arif's mercy petition  was based on previous judicial findings and the "rarest of rare" standard established in Bachan Singh. While Arif can challenge this decision in the Supreme Court, the court has historically emphasized the limited scope of judicial review in such matters.

 Additional Points

{Constitutional Basis and Rationale}

Bachan Singh Case (1980)

• Guidelines: The Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty, emphasizing that it should only be awarded in the “rarest of rare” cases. The court stressed that the death penalty must not be “bloodthirsty” and should only be used when life imprisonment is unquestionably inadequate.

• Mitigating Circumstances: All possible mitigating factors must be considered before awarding the death penalty.

Red Fort Attack (2000)

• Incident: On December 22, 2000, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists attacked the Red Fort, resulting in the deaths of two Army jawans and a civilian.

• Arrests and Trial: Mohammad Arif was arrested and charged along with others. The trial involved extensive evidence and multiple witness testimonies.

President’s Mercy Power and Legal Considerations

Law Commission Report (2015)

• Recommendation: Suggested that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes except terrorism-related offenses.

Options for Further Appeal

• Supreme Court: Arif can challenge the President’s decision in the Supreme Court, which has previously intervened in cases of inordinate delays or procedural lapses in mercy petitions.

Conclusion

The standards for awarding the death penalty in India are guided by the principle of being used only in the “rarest of rare” cases, with extensive judicial scrutiny and constitutional safeguards. The President’s mercy power serves as a final check in the process, ensuring that all aspects of justice are considered before the ultimate punishment is carried out.


SRIRAM’s



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