Governor to decide on Rajiv Gandhi murder case | UPSC Law Optional Mains Current Affairs


CURRENT AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 2020 | GOVERNOR TO DECIDE PARDON TO CONVICTS IN RAJIV GANDHI ASSASSINATION CASE


WHAT HAPENNED ? In A G Perarivalan v. Ministry of Home Affairs, also called Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case, Perarivalan was sentenced to life imprisonment and therefore he filed a petition for pardoning the sentence under Article 161. But this petition was not decided for over more than two years.

Therefore, Supreme Court expressed its unhappiness and said that the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) investigation into the larger conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi assassination in 1991 need not deter the TamilNadu Governor from declining the plea for pardon of sentence of convicts.


RELATING THE CURRENT AFFAIRS WITH STATIC LAW PORTIONS


Relevant Legal Provision : Article 161 Indian Constitution

Governor’s pardoning powers | Article 161 of the Indian Constitution provides empowers the Governor to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions or suspend or commute the sentence of persons convicted of any offence against law relating to matter to which the executive power of the State extends.


Limitations on his pardoning power :

  • But he cannot pardon death sentence.

  • He cannot pardon the punishment awarded by court-martial.

  • Governor’s decision is subject to judicial review.

  • Governor can either grant or reject the mercy petition.


FEW RECENT AND LAND MARK CASES ON THE POINT


Result of inordinate delay | In Shatrughan Chauhan and Ors. v. Union of India,2014 the court held that undue and unexplained delay in deciding mercy petitions was a legitimate ground for the death row convicts to approach the Apex court seeking commutation of death penalty to life imprisonment. It also held that undue delay violates Article 21 of the prisoners.

In 2014, the Supreme Court had commuted death sentence of three convicts due to delays in deciding their mercy petitions.


Power not absolute | In Dhananjoy Chatterjee v. State of Bengal, the Supreme Court reiterated that power under Article 161 is exercised by State government and not be Governor on his own. The advice of State government binds the head of State.

The powers under Article 161 can be challenged on the following grounds as stated in Epuru Sudhakar v. Govt. of A.P. and Ors.-


  • That the order was passed without applying the mind.

  • That the order is malafide.

  • That the order has been passed on extraneous or wholly irrelevant considerations.

  • That order passed is arbitrary.

That the relevant material was not considered.


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