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Power To Suspend And Remit Sentence Under Section 432 Of Code Of Criminal Procedure

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 has devoted a full chapter on the subject of execution, suspension, remission, and commutation of sentences The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CRPC) empower the government to suspend or remit a sentence or commute the sentence awarded to him by any court regarding any offence and the appropriate government may with or without condition suspend or remit the sentence and without the consent of the person sentenced but the powers are not absolute there is a certain restriction imposed upon exercising these powers under section43A. The legal provisions which empower the government for exercising the powers regarding, suspension, commutation, remission are under Sections 432, 433.

Suspension means to take or withdraw the sentence for the time being. It is the temporary postponement of the sentence. Remission implies reducing the period of a sentence without changing its character. Commutation denotes the substitution of a form of punishment for a lighter one. Execution of sentences implies that the court shall cause any order to be carried into effect by issuing a warrant or taking such other steps as may be necessary.

Suspension, Remission, and Commutation of Sentences

Section 432 of Cr.P.C Power to suspend or remit sentences:

  1. When any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offense, the appropriate Government may, at any time, without conditions or upon any conditions, which the person sentenced, accepts, suspend the execution of his sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced.
  2. Whenever the application is made to the appropriate Government for the suspension or remission of a sentence the appropriate Government may require the presiding Judge of the Court before or by which the conviction was had or confirmed, to state his opinion as to whether the application should be granted or refused, together with his reasons for such opinion and also to forward with the statement of such opinion a certified copy of the record of trial or of such record thereof as exists.
  3. If any condition on which a sentence has been suspended or remitted is, in the opinion of the appropriate Government, not fulfilled, the appropriate Government may cancel the suspension or remission, and thereupon the person in whose favor the sentence has been suspended or remitted may if at large, be arrested by any police officer, without a warrant and remanded to undergo the unexpired portion of the sentence.
  4. The condition on which a sentence is suspended or remitted under this section may be one to be fulfilled by the person in whose favor the sentence is suspended or remitted or one independent of his will.
  5. The appropriate Government may, by general rules or special orders, give directions as to the suspension of sentences and the conditions on which petitions should be presented and dealt with: Provided that in the case of any sentence (other than a sentence of fine) passed on a male person above the age of eighteen years, no such petition by the person sentenced or by any other person on his behalf shall be entertained, unless the person sentenced is in jail, and:
    1. Where such a petition is made by the person sentenced, it is presented through the officer in charge of the jail; or
    2. Where such petition is made by any other person, it contains a declaration that the person sentenced is in jail.
  6. The provisions of the above sub-sections shall also apply to any order passed by a Criminal Court under any section of this Code or of any other law which restricts the liberty of any person or imposes any liability upon him or his property.
  7. In this section and in section 433, the expression "appropriate Government" means:
    1. In cases where the sentence is for an offense against, or the order referred to in subsection 6 is passed under, any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends, the Central Government;
    2. In other cases the Government of the State within which the offender is sentenced or the said order is passed.

Analysis Of Section 432:

After detailed analysis of section 432, it provides that when any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offense, the appropriate Government may, at any time, without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts, suspend the execution of his sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced.

Upon an application made to the appropriate Government for the suspension or remission of a sentence, it may require the presiding judge of the court before or by which the conviction was had or confirmed to state his opinion as to whether the application should be granted or refused, together with his reasons for such opinion and also to forward with the statement of such opinion a certified copy of the record of the trial or such record thereof as exists.

If any condition on which a sentence has been suspended or remitted is not fulfilled, the appropriate Government may cancel the suspension or remission and thereupon the person concerned may be arrested by any police officer without a warrant and remanded to undergo the unexpired portion The appropriate Government may, without the consent of the person sentenced, commute anyone of the following sentences for any other mentioned, viz.,
  1. a sentence of death for any other punishment provided by the Indian Penal Code, 1860;
  2. a sentence of imprisonment for life, for imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years or for fine,
  3. a sentence of rigorous imprisonment, for simple imprisonment for any term to which that person might have been sentenced or for fine;
  4. a sentence of simple imprisonment for fine.

What is Suspension or remission of sentences and how it is given:

The suspension is the stay or postponement of the execution of the sentence. In remission, the duration of the sentence is reduced, without changing the nature of the sentence. Remission and suspension differ to a large extent. In remission, the nature of the sentence is remained untouched while the duration is reduced i.e. the rest of the sentence need not be undergone. For example, a person sentenced to a term of two years, his sentence is now reduced to one year.

The effect of the remission is that the prisoner is given a certain date on which he shall be released and in the eyes of the law he would be a free man. However, in case of breach of any of the conditions of remission, it will be canceled and the offender has to serve the entire term for which he was originally sentenced.

Suspension Of Sentence:

Suspension of the sentence means cancellation of imposition of the sentence after a plea of guilty or conviction for a period that is determinate and reasonable. It postpones the judgment or order of the court temporarily or indefinitely. The difference between reprieve and suspension of sentence is the reprieve postpones a sentence to a certain date but suspensions of sentence postpone it to an indefinite time Who is empowered to suspend the sentence: Section 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code empowers the Government to remit or suspend a sentence.

When a person is sentenced for any punishment then the Government can at any time along with or without any conditions suspend or remit the sentence in whole or part of it and the appropriate government is having statutory power under this section.

The appropriate Government can be a Central or State Government. If the order passed in which the Union has extensive power then the Central Government is the appropriate Government or else in other cases the State Government becomes the appropriate government.

Procedure for exercising the power of suspension by the accused:
An application to this effect is to be made to the appropriate Government and there can be no suo motto action by the Government. The Government takes opinion with the reasons of the Judge of the Court as to whether accept or reject the application. If the conditions are fulfilled by the offender then the suspension of the sentence takes place.

Case Laws For Suspension Of Sentence:

G.V. Ramanjah V superintendent Central Jail:

Word appropriate Government has been defined by Supreme Court of India that in view of Entries 36 and 93 of the Union list in the seventh schedule of the constitution Currency notes and Banknotes to which the offenses under 489 to 489-D of the Indian Penal Code relate are matters which are exclusively within the legislative competence of the Union Legislature. Therefore Union Government is the appropriate Government in relation to offenses under the sections.

Ramprasad Gupta v. State of Maharashtra

While deciding on a writ petition challenging the suspension order of sentence passed by the state government in exercise of powers under Section 432(1) of the Cr. P.C, a bench of Ranjit More & V.L. Achliya J.J. struck down the order passed by the government and directed the respondents to surrender before the concerned jail authorities. In the present case, the respondent police officers were convicted of committing murder under the pretext of police encounter by the Sessions Court.

The state government during the pendency of appeal exercised its power under Section 432(1) of the Cr. P.C. and suspended the sentence for a period of six months. Mr. Choudhari learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the suspension order was patently illegal because Section 433-A imposed an embargo on government exercising power under Section 432 and Section 433 (to remit/suspend/commute) in favor of a convict punished under a provision where one of the punishments is death unless the convict has completed 14 years of imprisonment. The Court observed that the exercise of powers to suspend the sentence of a convict of an offense under Section 302, particularly when the matter was still subjudice before the High Court required serious consideration and struck down the order passed by the government.


K.M Nanavati V State of Bombay:

It was held governor can grant full pardon at any time during the pendency of the case in the Supreme Court in the exercise of mercy jurisdiction. Such a pardon after the accused person has been convicted by the court has the effect of completely absolving him from all punishments or disqualifications attaching to conviction for a criminal offense. That power is essentially vested in the Head of the Executive because the judiciary has no such Mercy jurisdiction.

But the suspension of the sentence for the period when the Supreme Court is in seizing of the case could be granted by that court itself. If in respect of the same period the government also had the power to suspend the sentence, it would mean that both the judiciary and the executive would be functioning in the same field at the same time leading to the possibility of conflict of jurisdiction.

State Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Prem Raj:

Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the Government to remit sentence, the fact remains that remission of punishment assumes that the conviction is correct and only reduces the punishment in part or in whole. Remission of the sentence does not mean acquittal and an aggrieved party has every right to vindicate himself or herself that his or her conviction is not sustainable in law.

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