Execution, Suspension, Remission and Commutation of Sentences

This Article is mainly talking about the expression Execution, Suspension, Remission and the Commutation of the Sentence. The word Execution implies that the court shall cause any order to be carried into only by after issuing the warrant. The word Remission means to reduce the duration of the term of the sentence. The suspension is to postpone the sentence but without changing its time duration and also does not interfere with the nature of the punishment. Commutation is the one which changes the nature of the sentence as well as it turns into the less severe form. Also, the Session Court cannot have the right to give death sentence without the prior permission of the High Court. Also if the accused is a pregnant woman the provisions are mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


There are different Constitutional and Statutory Provisions which suspend, remit or commute sentences given to the convict. The Chapter 32 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with the suspension, remission and Commutation of sentence. And also the  Article 72 and Article 161 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President and Governor to grant pardon, suspend, remit or commute the sentence. These all powers are exercised by the head of the state. The basic purpose of all this and the other form of mercy is to take into consideration certain aspects of the case which cannot arise during the proceedings in the court of law.

Suspension means to take or withdraw the sentence for the time being. It is the temporary postponement of the sentence. When the person is found guilty then the execution is stayed for a temporary period in suspension.

Remission implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. The effect of remission is that the prisoner is given a certain dates on which he shall be released and  in the eyes of law he would be a free man.

Commutation denotes the substitution of punishment for the lighter one. Also the nature of the sentence get changed that is the punishment get reduced which cannot exceed more than 14 years or fine.

Power of Suspension

For the Suspension application is made to the Appropriate government, then the opinion of the judge of the Court is required who has convicted or has upheld the conviction. The suspension may be with or without conditions with the approval of the concerned person. If the conditions are not fulfilled then suspension will be cancelled by the appropriate government.

Execution of order passed under Section 368 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

This Section speaks about the powers of the court that is – A Session Judge cannot execute a death sentence without the confirmation of the High Court, till that convict has to be in the custody of jail authorities. The High Court under this Section looks into the case.

Authorities of High Court –

  • Confirm the sentence given by the Session Court.
  • Nullify the conviction and convict the accused for the same charges which are given by the Session Court or can also have the fresh proceedings.
  • Also has the right to acquit the person.
  • The order received by the Session Court from the High Court has to be executed by way of issuance of a warrent is given under the Section 413 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Section 414 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says that if the High Court, passes the order of death sentence in appeal or revision, the Session Court has to issue a warrent for the same.

Suspension of imprisonment if someone fails to pay the fine

The Court may order the suspension of imprisonment if the accused if failed to pay the fine in full or in instalment. Then the court shall order the execution of the imprisonment order.

This doesnot applies to the accused who has paid the money on the non recovery of the imprisonment. Also if the person fails to pay the fine then the court may order the execution of imprisonment as soon as possible.

Execution of sentence of death passed by High Court

  • Under the Section 414 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the High Court passes order of death sentence in appeal or revision the Session Court has to issue a warrent.
  • Under the Section 415 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the High Court has  right to order for the postponement of the execution of the sentence. Also under the Article 134 of the Indian Constitution the case can be sent to the Supreme Court for appeal.
  • If the death sentence of the accused is confirmed by the High Court then the accused has the right to ask the High Court by way of application for the grant of certificate under Article 132 or 134 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Even after the death sentence confirmed by the High Court the person has the right to file the Special Leave Petition (SLP) under the Article 136 of the Indian Constitution. Then the High Court will order the postponement of the execution of the death sentence till the time ehich will be reasonable for the accused to file appeal in the Apex Court.
  • Under the Section 416 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 if the women is found to be pregnant who is sentenced for her crime then the High Court can postpone it or can also commute the sentence to the life imprisonment.

Under the Section 434 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 it states that the State government cannot exercise the powers which are given in Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 if the punishment is of death penalty.

Suspension or Remission of the sentences

The suspension is the stay or postponement of the execution of the sentence. In the theory of remission the duration get reduced without changing the nature of the sentence. The effect of the remission is that the prisoner is given a certain date on which he will be released and will be free in the eyes of law. However in case of any breach of the conditions mentioned in remission then the accused will be liable to serve the entire term for which he has originally sentenced. The procedure followed is given under the Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The government can ask the opinion of the court for the sentence and tge court will revert with the proper records. The government can deny or reject the application for remission and suspension if all the necessary conditions are not fulfilled. The accused can also be arrested by any police officer without any warrent and has to go under the portion of the sentence. The function of remission is totally dependent on the executive action. So the hover should use this power fairly and not in an arbitrary manner. So the power of remission and suspension should not interfere with the conviction of the court, and also it should not affect the execution of the sentence.

Commutation of sentence

Commutation is type of punishment which is different from the Suspension and the Remission. In Commutation there is change in the nature of the punishment and it concerts teh punishment into less severe form. The government is to not restricted to commute the sentence even if it is as low as a fine. Under the Section 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the apportionment government gets the power of Commutation of the sentence in various appropriate cases. Commutation of sentence is available in different punishment even for the death sentence i.e. Mercy plea.


  1. Death sentence to other punishment mentioned in the Indian Penal Code.
  2. Sentence of a simple imprisonment to fine.
  3. Imprisonment for life to imprisonment which cannot exceed more than 14 years or fine.
  4. Rigorous imprisonment to simpler imprisonment or fine.

The concept of Commutation is controversial because it affects the basic human rights of the accused and also has a negative impact on the society because a person commits a grave crime but Commutation of sentence is provided to him and the punishment reduces automatically. Also most of the convicts of the death sentence reduced to 14 years of imprisonment in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


The sentence awarded by the judiciary can be remitted, suspended or commutated by the executive actions. The powers are given to the President, Governor and the Police Officer under the various Sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and also in different Articles of the Indian Constitution. This executive powers have no legal check but it should be fair and not arbitrary. There are also various matters on which the State has to pass the sentence with the consultation of the Central Government. Also under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 Section is provided for the pregnant women.


  1. https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/all-about-execution-suspension-remission-and-commutation-of-sentences-under-code-of-criminal-procedure1973-by-nishita-kapoor/
  2. https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/148889/13/13_chapter%206.pdf
  3. http://lawtimesjournal.in/difference-between-execution-suspension-remission-and-commutation-of-sentences/

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