President defends clemency decisions
New Delhi: The Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday defended its granting mercy to some death row convicts saying the power to pardon is not a private act of grace by the President but a part of the constitutional scheme of things.
"Article 72 does confer on the President the power to grant clemency. However, in the exercise of these powers, the President is not supposed to act on her own judgment but is mandated to act in accordance with the aid and advice of the government in terms of Article 74 of the Constitution. The advice of the government is binding on the Head of State," the Secretariat said in a statement.
The statement was issued in the wake of critical reports in the media about the decision of President Pratibha Patil's to grant clemency to some death row convicts some of whom are "brutal criminals".
"These reports stem from a lack of correct appreciation of the constitutional provisions and the related court judgments in the matter," the statement from Archana Dutta, OSD (PR) to President Pratibha Patil said.
"Thus, the power to pardon is a part of the constitutional scheme and not a private act of grace on the part of the President. When the President is expected to work as part of the constitutional scheme, the word, President, is an abbreviation for the central government," it said.
The statement said that to say that the President acted in haste or played to the gallery while handling mercy petitions is "misconstrued".
"The allegation of non-application of mind in the disposal of mercy petitions is factually incorrect and misleading. The President has disposed clemency petitions only after due examination on receipt of the aid and advice of the Home Minister," it said.