Power to Pardon
The pardoning powers of the Indian President are elucidated in Art 72 of the Indian Constitution.
There are five different types of pardoning which is mandated by law.
1. Pardon: Completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free. The pardoned criminal will be like a normal citizen.
2. Commutation: Changing the type of punishment given to the guilty into a less harsher one. For example, a death penalty commuted to a life sentence
3. Reprieve: A delay allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence, for a guilty person to allow him some time to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy to prove his innocence or successful rehabilitation.
4. Respite: Reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
5. Remission: Changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature. Eg: reducing 20 year rigorous imprisonment to 10 years.
The Article 72 details:
(1) The President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or to suspend remit or commute the sentence of any persons convicted of any offence-
(a) in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
(b) in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
(c) in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.
(2) Nothing in sub- clause (a) of clause (1) shall after the power conferred by law on any officer of the Armed Forces of the Union to suspend, remit or commute a sentence passed by a Court Martial.
(3) Nothing in sub-clause (c) of clause (1) shall affect the power to suspend remit or commute a sentence of death exercisable by the Governor of a State under any law for the time being in force.
ARTICLE 161 Details:
Similarly, as per article 161: Governor of a State has 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 against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends. Please note that President can grant pardon to a person awarded death sentence. But Governor of State does not enjoy this power.