“Please enlighten us about the constitutional provision which enables the Governor to refer a pardon plea filed under Article 161 to the President,” Justices Rao and Gavai, accompanied by Justice A.S. Bopanna on the Bench, asked the Centre.
Mr. Natraj replied that the Tamil Nadu government had tried to “usurp” the power of the President and the Centre to decide on the question of pardon.
“The power was conferred on us [the Centre] to advise the President on the question of pardon,” Mr. Natraj replied defensively.
“By that analogy, if a pardon is sought in a murder case, the Governor should refer it to the President,” Justice Gavai asked.
Perarivalan was sentenced to life sentence for murder. Terrorism charges were earlier withdrawn.
Justice Rao intervened, asking why the Centre was representing the Governor in the case. “What is your locusstandi to represent the Governor,” he asked.
Mr. Natraj reasoned that the Governor was a constitutional office. “And when the system is not functioning as per the constitutional mandate, anybody can bring it to the notice of the court,” the lawyer argued.
“The Governor is the head of the State. He represents the State concerned. If at all somebody has to speak for the Governor, it will be the State and not the Cen- tre,” Justice Rao responded.