The issue is not a new one in the country as it has been raised back in 2009 when our president has pardoned a person convicted of death penalty only on political considerations.
Forgiveness is a great virtue as we have been taught in our early childhood. But forgiveness has some reservations as well when it has implications to the society at large. If it overshadows the principle of rule of law and justice, then it must not be used recklessly. If justice is threatened and rule of law is questioned, then forgiveness is contrary to the social wellbeing.
But it has been used since 2009 as a tool to bring out the perpetrators of most heinous crime only on political consideration. The principle of natural justice and rule of law have been ignored mercilessly to provide mercy to the crimers.
Statistics show that four convicts were pardoned during the period of 1972 to 2008. The number might have justifications 36 years. And no such question was raised on pardoning those convicted.
The figure disclosed by a query in the parliament, though it has been discussed earlier in our media.
Pardoning and releasing from the criminal cases have crossed the limit of all times in our country. And those are being done only on political considerations.
But most astonishing of all that is that the present government has pardoned 21 death convicts in different cases. Among them one in 2009, 18 in 2010 and two in 2011 were pardoned.
Earlier in 2008, the then president granted clemency to one death row convict and two others in 2005. Another condemned person got presidential pardon in1987.
Article 49 of the constitution says, “The president shall have power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority."
The clear reading of the provision shows that the power of pardon is unconditional. The president can grant pardon, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court or tribunal without imposing any condition upon him to consider before doing so.
But, though the constitutional provision did not put for any condition, the basic principle of law and justice upon which the provision is based carry some condition with it.
This provision is also laid down in the constitution of many countries without putting any additional condition for the president. It is perceived that the president will follow those principles of natural justice and basic principle of law. It is also provided to the president as to ensure justice as it might be missed in the courts or tribunal and sometimes to ensure justice and peace in the country. But it must not be used as tool to thwart justice, peace and social harmony.
In pardoning Biplob, the son of an Awami League leader Abu Taher, in 2011, in advocate Nurul Islam murder case, the power of the president as per provision of the constitution has been questioned. He has been on the run for 10 years and convicted in absentia. The convict of Sabbir Ahmed Gama has also been pardoned in 2010 on political consideration.
A total of 25 convicts were pardoned amongst whom 21 were pardoned during this AL regime.
Prerogative of mercy is the responsibility and honor vested to the hands of the head of the state like many other countries. The state vests this power and responsibility keeping full trust upon him that he will not misuse it. Probably, no other countries have done like ours in our very recent past. Pardoning 21 persons only within three years is not available in other countries. This inconsiderate incident is no less than a threat to ensuring justice in the society.
BDST: 1510HRS, NOV 15, 2012
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