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Basically, the term remission means cancellation of any debt or charges or any penalty. In simple words, we can say remission means forgiveness. Remission is a stage where a person has been sentenced to jail for a crime, the appropriate government may at any time remit a part of the

INTRODUCTION                                               WHAT DOES THE TERM REMISSION MEAN?

Basically, the term remission means cancellation of any debt or charges or any penalty. In simple words, we can say remission means forgiveness. Remission is a stage where a person has been sentenced to jail for a crime, the appropriate government may at any time remit a part of the sentence or the whole of the sentence depending on case. Remission can be conditional or unconditional. Remission can be cancelled by the government if certain conditions given are not fulfilled. The word remission is used to mention the reduction in the sentence of the convict the nature remains the same but the duration of punishment is changed.


On December 18, 1978, the Government introduced a significant change under section 433A of the Code of criminal procedure.[1] According to the clause, the authority may now be used after an individual has spent a 14-year sentence in jail. Section 433A, “life imprisonment” is typically understood to entail 14 years in jail.[2] Remission is the act of releasing a prisoner on probation or parole before the end of their term. The Prisoners Act of 1894 established the idea of remission.[3]

Constitutional provision regarding remission law  

  • According to Article 72 of the Indian Constitution,[4] the President may commute a sentence. For offences that are under the purview of the central government, including court-martial judgements, the power extends to the prisoner.
  • According to Article 161 of the Indian Constitution,[5] a state’s governor has the authority to award remission. The governor is not permitted to commute the death penalty or a life sentence.

Code of criminal procedure (CrPC): The important portions of the CrPC, Sections 432, 433, 434, and Section 435, deal with the authority of the government to grant remit.

  • A board can be established by the state government to review a criminal serving a life sentence’s request for remission.
  • According to Section 432 of the CrPC, the state government may consult the trial court judge before making a decision about remission.
  • According to Section 435 of the CrPC, if the accusing agency is a central government agency, the state government must contact the Center before making a decision on a remission application.

Prisoners act: – Only state governments may set the guidelines for awarding remission under the Prisons Act. The union government may provide advisory rules in this area.[6]


According to the Prison Act of 1894, the Remission system is a set of guidelines developed for the period being in effect that governs the awarding of marks to offenders in jail and the subsequent reduction of their sentences. In the Kehar Singh v. Union of India (1989) case,[7] it was noted that courts could not refuse a prisoner the opportunity to be taken into consideration for sentence reduction. If the prisoner refused, there would be no chance for release and they would have to stay there until they died.[8]

In the State of Haryana v. Mahender Singh case from 2007,[9] the Supreme Court made a similar observation, stating that although no prisoner has a basic right to remission, the State must nonetheless assess each case on an individual basis while using its executive power of remission. The Court also concluded that a right to be taken into consideration for remission ought to be deemed to be a legitimate one. This is done by bearing in mind the constitutional protections provided to convicted criminals under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution.[10]


Factors are taken into account while awarding remission

  • the severity of the crime
  • How the co-accused is doing
  • Behaviour in prison

In “Laxman Naskar v. Union of India,” decided in 2000,[11] the Court established five criteria for considering remission.

  • When the crime is a singular act of transgression that has no impact on society.
  • The likelihood that the crime will be committed again in the future.
  • Whether the offender no longer has the ability to commit crimes.
  • If putting the convicted person in prison serves any purpose.
  • Family socioeconomic circumstances of the offender.

Rules in jail manuals provide that for inmates’ excellent behaviour, there may be certain days of remission each month. Nevertheless, life-sentenced inmates are only permitted to request remission after serving a minimum of 14 years.[12]


What is the case?

Gujarat had been violent following the burning of the Sabarmati railway in Godhra on February 27, 2002, which resulted in the deaths of 59 karsevaks. Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time, evacuated her village with her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter and 15 other family members out of fear of the outbreak of violence. As Bilkis, her mother, and three other women were viciously abused and raped, they were attacked by 20 to 30 attackers. The attack was only survived by Bilkis, a male, and a three-year-old. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Supreme Court both took up her issue and the latter subsequently requested that the CBI conduct a probe.[13]

What happened in the case?

As Bilkis Bano received threats against her life, the trial was relocated from Gujarat to Maharashtra and the defendants were detained in 2004. The Special CBI Court sentenced 11 defendants to life in jail in 2008 after finding them guilty of murder, conspiracy to rape a pregnant lady, and unlawful assembly. Due to a lack of evidence, the court cleared seven further defendants. In a 2017 ruling, the Bombay High Court maintained the conviction and life sentences of 11 defendants in the gang rape case. The Supreme Court granted Bilkis compensation in 2019 in the amount of Rs 50 lakh, marking the first time it has happened in a case involving the riots of 2002.[14]

Why the convicts were released?

According to sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,[15] one of the prisoners had petitioned the Gujarat High Court for a reduction in the sentence. The high court rejected his appeal while stating that Maharashtra, and not Gujarat, was the “proper authority” to decide on his remission. He subsequently entered a plea before the Supreme Court, claiming that as of 1 April 2022, he had been imprisoned for more than 15 years without receiving a pardon. The Gujarat government constituted a committee after the top court ordered it to investigate the possibility of reducing his sentence. All 11 of the case’s convicted parties were unanimously granted remission by the committee.[16]


The government has decided that a certain group of convicts will receive a special remission as part of THE AZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV festivities. Three stages would separate the release of these convicts.[17]

  1. Women and transgender criminals who are at least 50 years old as well as male offenders who are at least 60 years old are eligible for special remission.
  2. Without taking into account the time served under achieved general remission, these prisoners must have served half of their overall sentence.
  3. Physically disabled or sick inmates who have served half (50%) or more of their total sentence, terminally ill inmates who have served two-thirds (66%) or more of their total sentence, and
  4. Poor or indigent inmates who have served their full sentence but remain behind bars because they failed to pay the fine that was imposed on them by waiving the fine.
  5. Those who have served half of their sentence and who committed the crime while they were young (18 to 21) and who have no prior criminal history or cases pending against them are also eligible.[18]


  1. People, who have received a death sentence, have had their death sentence reduced to life in prison, or have been found guilty of a crime for which the death penalty is one of the possible penalties.
  2. Those who have been found guilty and received a life sentence.
  3. The convicts involved in the Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act of 1985, the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002, the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, the Explosives Act of 1908, the National Security Act of 1982, the Official Secrets Act of 1923, or the Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016.
  4. People who have been found guilty of crimes under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the Immoral Trafficking Act 1956, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act 2012, the Dowry Death and Counterfeit Currency Notes, as well as any other laws that the State governments or the Union Territory administrations deem appropriate to exclude, will not be eligible for the special remission.[19]

Author(s) Name: Sreesha Balla (IFIM Law School)


[1] Code of criminal procedure code 1973, s433A

[2] Sristhi ojha, India today, 17th august 2022,< > accessed on 25th February 2023

[3]Manishsiq, study iq, 19th October 2022,<,grant%20remission%20under%20Article%20161.> accessed on 25th February 2023


[5] INDIAN CONTITUTION, article 161

[6] Manishsiq, study iq, 19th October 2022,<,grant%20remission%20under%20Article%20161 > accessed on 25th February 2023

[7] Kehar Singh and Anr. Vs. Union of India and Anr on 16 December, AIR 1989 SC 653

[8] Drishtiias, 15th June 2022,< >accessed 25th February 2023

[9] Mahender Singh vs. State Of Haryana & Ors, 2022, 4282 P&H

[10] INDIAN CONTITUTUION, art 20 &21

[11] Laxman Naskar etc. Vs. Union of India & Ors., Writ petition (Crl.) No. 64 of 1999

[12] iasparliament, 17th august 2022,< > accessed on 25th February 2023

[13] Iasparliament, 17th august 2022,< > accessed on 25th February 2023

[14] Ibid

[15] Code of criminal procedure, 1973, s432 & 433

[16] Iasparliament, 17th august 2022,<> accessed on 25th February 2023

[17] Drishtiias, 15th June 2022< > accessed on 25th February 2023

[18] Drishtiias, 15th June 2022< > accessed on 25th February 2023

[19] Drishtiias, 15th June 2022<> accessed on 25th February 2023