US President Donald Trump exercised his powers under the Constitution to pardon Michael Flynn, his former National Security Advisor, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
The President of the US has the constitutional right to pardon or commute sentences related to federal crimes. The US Supreme Court has held that this power is “granted without limit” and cannot be restricted by Congress.
Clemency is a broad executive power, and is discretionary — meaning the President is not answerable for his pardons, and does not have to provide a reason for issuing one.
Unlike the US President, whose powers to grant pardons are almost unfettered, the President of India has to act on the advice of the Cabinet.
Under Article 72 of the Constitution, “the President shall have 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 where the sentence is a sentence of death”.
In several cases, the SC has ruled that the President has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers while deciding mercy pleas. These include Maru Ram vs Union of India in 1980, and Dhananjoy Chatterjee vs State of West Bengal in 1994.