Full pardon doesn’t mean conviction erased, says ex-CJ

Former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad says if a person is granted a full pardon and is to be released immediately, it only meant that the individual is a free man. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A former chief justice today said the granting of pardons, reprieves and respites does not mean that the offender’s conviction and sentence are extinguished from the court record.

Abdul Hamid Mohamad said pursuant to Article 42 of the constitution, various types of “pardons” might be given.

“For example, if a person who has not served the prison sentence is ‘pardoned’, he does not have to serve the sentence. If he has served a portion of the sentence of imprisonment imposed on him, he does not have to serve the remainder of his sentence.

“A sentence imposed on a convicted person such as the death penalty may be postponed. A sentence may be replaced by a lighter sentence. An imprisonment sentence may also be shortened,” he said in a blog post.

He said although the words “full pardon” are not used in the Federal Constitution, an individual granted such a pardon and immediately released would be a free person from then on.

“The granting of pardon, reprieve and respite does not mean that the conviction and sentence are extinguished from the court record,” he added. “The court order remains, but the offender is excused from having to serve the sentence.

“The pardon should not be equated with a court order of setting aside, quashing or being declared null and void. Only courts may make such orders.”

Noting that the constitution does not interpret the meaning of a “free pardon” either, he said whether this meant the same thing as a full pardon was up to the courts’ to decide.

The debate over pardons cropped up several days ago when PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the full pardon to Anwar Ibrahim, as stated by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas in his letter to lawyer Siti Kasim, was still not enough to lift a five-year ban on the PKR president-elect from returning to active politics.

Anwar had been sentenced to five years in prison over a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

He was granted a royal pardon by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and freed on May 16, after the 14th general election.

Tags: full pardon, free pardon, by-election, Anwar Ibrahim