In good faith: Why remission of sentences of Anand Mohan Singh and Bilkis Bano convicts is ethically wrong

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Source: The post is based on the article “In good faith: Why remission of sentences of Anand Mohan Singh and Bilkis Bano convicts is ethically wrong” published in the Indian Express on 11th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 4: Determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions.

Relevance: About the ethical dimensions of remission.

News: The recent remissions of Anand Mohan Singh and the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case seem to be politically motivated. 

About provisions for remission

The constitutional provisions on remission were framed after lengthy discussions on crime, punishment, guilt and redemption.

Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution do mandate humanitarian remission. Sections 432, 433, 433A, 434 and 435 of the CrPC also empower the government to suspend or remit sentences.

Remission should not be seen as the fundamental right of convicts. This is clarified by the Supreme Court in Mahender Singh v State of Haryana (2007) case. In that, the SC said that the state must give due consideration to every case of clemency, but it also said that no convict has a right to remission.

Read more: Explained: Why the 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano gangrape case walked out of jail

What are the ethical dimensions of remission?

Remission of punishment is meant to uphold a sense of community justice. The mercy for convicts continues to remain a contentious matter.

Recognising the links between the severity of crime and punishment is one of the fundamental mandates of the criminal justice system. The remission should be based on the principle that the act of compassion towards a convict should not be insensitive to the victim of the crime. Convicts who have inflicted unequivocal damage on society should not be remitted prematurely. 

Read more: Remission Impossible – In Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, govt decisions on early release, paroles are huge blows against justice

Why the remission of sentences in Bilkis Bano convicts is ethically wrong?

-The remission of the Bilkis Bano convict’s sentence seems to have been actuated by mistaken notions of mercy. Laws and principles of justice hinge on public respect. The recent remission will severely hamper public respect.

-The misuse of the Constitution’s humanitarian provision in recent times subverts the intentions of our founding fathers.

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