Executive Clemency in United States and India

11 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2014

Date Written: February 23, 2014


The power of pardon exists to prevent injustice whether from harsh or unjust laws or from judgments which results in injustices; hence the necessity of vesting that power in an authority other than the judiciary has always been recognized. At common law, a pardon was an absolute and unfettered act of mercy whereby the King could forgive any crime, offense or punishment. From this source, it came to find a place in the United States Constitution and the Constitutions of India. Article II Section 2, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution provides that the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of Impeachment. Similarly, Article 72 of the Constitution of India empowers the President to grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission of punishment, or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense. However, there is a great difference in the application of this power in the United States and India with reference to their constitutional mandates and judicial scrutiny. In the United States the exercise of pardoning power is to a great extent absolute and unrestricted, in India its application is subject to the guidelines issued by the judicial bodies from time to time.

Keywords: pardon, mercy petition, president, clemency, USA, India, Article 72

Suggested Citation

Pandey, Kritarth, Executive Clemency in United States and India (February 23, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2400110 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2400110

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