New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI) Governors cannot exceed theirpowers and pardon accused persons on the ground that they wereinnocent, the Supreme Court today ruled, quashing a PunjabGovernor order in which he directed the release of threepersons facing life imprisonment in a murder case.
The apex court said though the President and theGovernors enjoy special Constitutional powers to pardonconvicted persons, it cannot be exercised to determine theinnocence or otherwise of the convicts as it is purely in thedomain of courts.
"One should not trench upon the other. The instant orderof the Governor, by pronouncing upon the innocence of theaccused, has therefore, if we may say so with respect,exceeded the permissible constitutional limits under Article161 of the Constitution.
"For these reasons, we are constrained to hold that wecannot approve the order of the Governor. We therefore, setaside the order and remand it to the Hon�ble Governor forreconsideration of the matter in accordance with law," a benchof justices G S Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly said in ajudgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while dealing withthe appeal filed by the three convicts Narayan Dutt, PremKumar and Manjit Singh pardoned by the Governor by using hispowers under Article 161 on July 24, 2007.
The Governor passed the order for their pardon with anobservation that they were falsely implicated in the murder inwhich they were convicted by the sessions court Barnala. Theconvicts had moved the application for pardon before theGovernor even while filing an appeal in the High Court againstthe conviction.