Is there any time limit for mercy plea in India?

Article 72 of the Constitution of India says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence. The meaning of these terms is as follows:

  • Pardon: Complete pardon
  • Reprieve: Temporary suspension of sentence
  • Respite: awarding less sentence
  • Remission: Reducing amount of sentence
  • Commutation: Changing one punishment to another.

Recently, as we read in the newspapers, the Centre received a notice from the Madras high court on the petition filed by the three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi killing case. The Government has told the court that no time limit is prescribed for the President to take a decision on mercy petition of any death row convict. The Constitution does not provide any time limit for the President to decide upon any clemency petition.

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