Pardoning Power of Governor – Article 161 of Indian Constitution, Remission Power

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The pardoning power of Governor is mentioned in Article 161 of Indian Constitution. It declares that the State Governor holds the authority to grant absolutions, rescues, leisure, or cancellations of penalty or could discontinue, forgive or commute the punishment of any individual condemned of any crime against any regulation relating to an issue to which the State administrative power spreads.

The latest decision concerning the pardoning power of Governor overrules Section 433A, a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, which compulsorily affirms that a criminal’s verdict can be settled only after completing 4 years of prison. When a prisoner has performed a violation against the state’s law, the sentence can be given a clearing, redemption, pause or remission by the state Governor. In this article, learn about the pardoning power of Governor, the difference between pardoning power of President and Governor, and more information in detail.

Can Governor Pardon Death Sentence?

The pardoning power of Governor constitutes part of his judiciary powers and is identical to the pardoning power of the President, it exemplifies the following. If any convict has committed an offence against the State, then the pardon or reprieve of that person can be granted by the Governor of the State.

  • Commute
  • Pardon
  • Remission
  • Reprieve
  • Respite

Pardoning Power of Governor in India

The pardoning power of Governor is explained in detail below. Governor General of India possesses numerous powers for granting pardon to the convict. These include Governor pardoning power, respite, reprieve, remit, and commute powers. In the latest news, On August 3rd 2021, the Supreme Court provided the Governor with the power to grant pardon to prisoners, those who have not completed 14 years of the sentence and are on death row, this overrules section 433A of the Indian Constitution.

Pardoning Power of Governor


The governor can commute the punishment of any individual convicted of any offence against state law, or he can commute a death sentence.

Pardon Power of Governor

The conviction and punishment of the prisoner fully release the punishments, sentences, and disqualifications when the Governor pardons.

Governor cannot rationalise the sentence by legal process.

The pardoning power of the President’s scope under Article 72 is broader than that of the Governor as per Article 161.

The government of the State exercises the supreme power of a Governor to forgive or pardon a criminal, excluding the Governor, as per Article 161 of Indian Constitution.


When the President chooses the pardoning power of Remit, he acts to lower the verdict period, but the nature of the sentence remains the same.

For illustration, a penalty of strict imprisonment for two years may be transferred or remitted to stringent imprisonment for one year, but the detention remains rigid.


The governor stays enacting a penalty (particularly of death) for a transient period when he selects the pardoning power of ‘Reprieve’.

He allows the criminal to have time to follow clearing or commutation from him.


Governor decides to grant a smaller punishment than the one originally granted to the criminal when he uses his pardoning power of ‘Respite’.

For example, the President can utilise this power when there is a physical disorder in a prisoner or the during the pregnancy of an offender.

Remission Power of Governor:

The power of remission reduces the number of clearing without altering its character. For example, an imprisonment punishment of one year may be forgiven for six months.

Pardoning Power of the President in India

The President can give clearings, redemptions, pauses or remissions of a sentence or discontinue, send or commute the punishment of any individual condemned of any crime with a sentence of death according to Article 72 of the Constitution.

  • Although the suggestion of the Cabinet binds the President, Article 74(1) delegates him to forward it for reassessment once.
  • If the Ministers of the Council determine against any modification, the President has to accept it.
  • The President cannot exert his power of pardon autonomous of the government.

Pardoning Power of President and Governor

The pardoning Power of President (Article 72) has the authority to forgive, rescue, break, remit, discontinue, or commute a death sentence.

  • In contrast, the Governor’s Pardoning Power (Article 161 of Indian Constitution) cannot pardon the death sentence.
  • The President has control of any individual convicted for a violation of a Central law; on the other hand, the Governor has the authority over anyone convicted of a crime against state law.

Difference Between Pardoning Power of President and Governor

The difference between pardoning power of Governor and President is listed below. The prime difference between the pardoning power of the president and the governor is that the former can pardon the penalty of the convict allocated by the court-martial or military court while the Governor does not possess the power to rationalize the penalty of the convict allocated by the judiciary. Other remarkable differences between the pardoning power of the President and the pardoning power of Governor have been highlighted herein.

Pardoning Power of Governor Vs President

Pardoning Power of President

Governor Pardoning Power

He can rationalize a penalty allocated by the military court or court-martial.

The governor do not possess the control to pardon the punishment issued by the judicial examination on the criminal.

The President has the right to pardon the death punishment through substitution or in its entirety.

Governor can suspend, pardon or commute the death verdict using the powers of pardoning.

The President’s pardoning powers are given when the prisoner commits a crime against a Union law.

Governor’s pardoning powers are given when the prisoner commits a crime against state law.

Constitutional Provisions of Pardoning Power of Governor

Article 161 of Indian Constitution regulates and mentions the provisions related to the pardoning power of the governor. The articles and provisions undertaken by the constitution related to the Pardoning power of Governor include:

Article 161

It addresses the Governor’s authority to grant absolutions, etc., as well as discontinue, remit, or commute penalties in certain events.

Section 433A

Governor pardoning power can overrule Section 433A. According to this, the state Governor has the power to pardon criminals even before they have completed a minimum of 14 years in jail, as per a recent Supreme Court ruling. Section 433-A has no bearing on the constitutional authority to grant pardons under Articles 72 or 161 of the Constitution.

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