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New norms for sentence remission

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  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    15th Jun, 2022


The Union Home Ministry has issued a set of guidelines to the States and the UTs on the grant of special remission to prisoners.

  • These guidelines have been issued to commemorate the 75th year of Independence.

What is Remission?

  • 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.
  • In remission, the nature of the sentence remains untouched, while the duration is reduced i.e. the rest of the sentence need not be undergone.
  • 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 cancelled and the offender has to serve the entire term for which he was originally sentenced.

Constitutional Provisions for Remission

  • Both the President and the Governor have been vested with sovereign power of pardon by the Constitution.
  • Under Article 72, the President can grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person.
  • This can be done for any person convicted of any offence in all cases where:
    • The punishment or sentence is by a court-martial, in all cases where the punishment or
    • Sentence is for an offence under any law relating to the Union government’s executive power, and in all cases of death sentences.
  • Under Article 161, a Governor can grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment, or suspend, remit or commute the sentence.
    • This can be done for anyone convicted under any law on a matter which comes under the State’s executive power.

What are the new norms?

The prisoners who would qualify for premature release under the scheme are-

  • Women and transgender convicts of ages 50 and above
  • Male convicts of 60 and above who have completed 50% of their total sentence period without counting the period of general remission earned
  • Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70% disability and more who have completed 50% of their total sentence period
  • Terminally ill convicts
  • Convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds (66%) of their total sentence
  • Poor or indigent prisoners who have completed their sentence but are still in jail due to non-payment of fine imposed on them by waiving off the fine
  • Persons who committed an offence at a young age (18-21) and with no other criminal involvement or case against them and who have completed 50% of their sentence period would also be eligible for the remission

Exceptions to these norms

Following persons would not be eligible for the grant of special remission-

  • Persons convicted with death sentence or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment.
  • persons convicted for an offence for which punishment of death has been specified as one of the punishments.
  • Persons convicted with sentence of life imprisonment, convicts involved in terrorist activities.
  • Persons convicted under:
    • Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act, 1985
    • Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002
    • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
    • Explosives Act, 1908
    • National Security Act, 1982
    • Official Secrets Act, 1923, and Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016.

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