Within the intricate tapestry of criminal law, remission is a nuanced and often misunderstood facet. It is important to deeply explore the concept of remission, shedding light on its legal complexities, its ramifications on convictions, and the fine line differentiating executive from judicial powers within the expansive criminal justice framework.

Defining Remission:

Remission, in the legal context, doesn’t equate to absolution. It doesn’t erase the committed offense or the resulting conviction; rather, it meticulously influences the execution of the imposed sentence. The crux of remission lies in its capacity to recalibrate the serving of a sentence without altering the fundamental judicial decree.

Remission of prison terms, meaning that all or a portion of the sentence may be canceled, is permitted by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The “appropriate government” may suspend or remit a sentence in whole or in part, with or without conditions, in accordance with Section 432.

Effect of Remission on Sentences:

In the traditional landscape, a convicted individual is obligated to serve the entirety of the court-mandated sentence. However, remission introduces a legal mechanism allowing for the exclusion of a specific portion of the sentence. In practical terms, this adjustment translates into a tangible and substantial benefit for the convicted individual. By excluding a defined portion of the sentence through remission, the individual experiences a diminished period of incarceration. This reduction can have profound implications for the individual’s life, offering the opportunity for rehabilitation, reintegration into society, or the pursuit of personal and professional development.

Importantly, remission preserves the integrity of the court’s initial conviction order and the sentence within the legal sphere, even though it modifies the practical implementation of the sentence. The essential elements of the ruling—the admission of guilt and the designated legal penalties—remain unaltered. Remission, then, functions inside the parameters established by the court, offering a gradual modification to the way the sentence is carried out without undermining the fundamental ideas of justice.

This legal complexity acknowledges that situations change and that the strict execution of the entire sentence could not always be in line with the more general objectives of justice and rehabilitation. Remission offers a customized sentence reduction that finds a balance between the condemned person’s right to accountability and the possibility of a good life improvement. It illustrates how flexible legal systems can be to meet the unique needs of each case while maintaining the fundamental values of justice and equity.

Executive Power vs. Judicial Power:

The distinction between judicial and executive authority must be made evident in order to fully understand remission. It is the executive branch that has the power to pardon. Unlike the authority granted to appellate or revisional courts, which can modify the penalty amount directly from the trial court, remission functions differently by impacting the sentence’s execution without interfering with the court’s original decision.

Distinction from Reprieves and Pardons:

A comprehensive understanding of remission necessitates differentiation from reprieves and pardons. A reprieve temporarily suspends the fixed punishment, while a pardon wholly remits the penalty. All three—reprieves, pardons, and remissions—are manifestations of executive functions, standing apart from the judicial authority exercised by courts in sentencing determinations.

Judicial and Executive Functions:

Drawing from Weater’s “Constitutional Law,” the very act of rendering judgment, a cornerstone of the legal process, is unequivocally a judicial function. It involves the meticulous examination of evidence, the application of legal principles, and the ultimate determination of guilt or innocence – all within the purview of the judiciary.

However, the narrative takes a crucial turn when we delve into the realm of executing these judgments. Weater aptly points out that the execution of judgments falls squarely within the domain of executive authority. It encompasses the practical implementation of the court’s decisions, ensuring that the prescribed punishments or remedies are carried out. This execution phase is inherently different from the deliberative and adjudicative processes of rendering judgment.

Acts of clemency, rooted in the executive branch, showcase a distinct facet of authority. When a convicted individual is granted remission, it becomes a tangible exercise of executive power. This exercise involves modifying the enforcement of the judgment without, critically, fundamentally changing the core nature of the judgment itself.


Within the complex field of criminal law, remission appears as a smart tool that shapes sentence execution while maintaining the integrity of the initial court order. A thorough comprehension of the relationship between the executive and judicial branches is necessary for both scholars and legal practitioners since remission is a crucial component in the conversation about the real-world application of justice in the legal system.


Maru Ram Etc. Etc vs Union Of India & Anr, 1980