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PROBATION OF OFFENDERS ACT 1958

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

PROBATION OF OFFENDERS ACT, 1958

1. The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.

2. (Salient Features); and

3. Parole.


1. PROBATION Meaning:-The term 'Probation' is derived from the Latin word Probate' or Probo', which means "to test or to prove" or "I prove". When a person convicted of an offence, as a special case by virtue of age or other reason is not sent to prison but is kept under the supervision/observation for the purpose of correcting him as a good citizen, he is said to have been kept on probation. The official, who supervises is called Probation Officer'.

The Probation Officer is appointed by the State Government or recognised by the State Government if the society prefers any social worker. The Probation Officer is under the control of a District Magistrate. The period of supervision is called 'Probation Period'.


Eg.:- When a child or young person is convicted for commission of a crime, he is not sent to prison (in execution of the sentence) but is kept under probation under the supervision of a Probation Officer. Therefore, 'Probation' means "the conditional suspension of a sentence by the Court, in selected cases, especially of young offenders, who are not sent to prisons but are released on probation, on agreeing to abide by certain conditions". Earlier, probation was designed only for child offenders (juvenile delinquents). Now, it can be extended to a delinquent of any age (Generally upto 21 years).


Definition:- Probation may be defined as "a method of dealing with specially selected offenders and consists of conditional suspension of punishment while the offender is placed under personal supervision and is given individualised treatment". Morrison Committee defined 'probation' as "the submission of an offender while at liberty to a specified period of supervision by a social case worker, who is an officer of the Court".


Object:- The main object of probation is to save some selected types of offenders from the rigours of punishment. Further, probation reduces crime rate and avoids over-crowding in jails t aim is reformation of delinquents as responsible citizens in the society .


Historical and Legal Background:

America (U.S.A.):-In America, the idea of probation was coined for the very first time by Peter Oxzenbridge Thacher J in 1830. John Augustus, a Boston Shoe Maker is considered to be the pioneer of probation in 1849. He succeeded in releasing a drunkard (to be convicted) on probation from a police court. Later, he succeeded in releasing on probation 253 Males, 149 Females and 2000 boys. In 1878, probation laws were passed and probation officers were appointed. By 1921, 35 States passed laws for adult probation and 47 States passed laws for juveniles' probation. By 1956, almost all States passed probation laws.


England (U.K.):- In England, the institution of probation was accorded statutory recognition in 1907 (with the passing of the Probation of Offenders' Act, 1907) though it was originated in 1820. The Probation of Offenders Act, 1907 was amended in 1914 by the Criminal Justice Amendment Act, 1914, which was again amended in 1925. The Criminal Justice Act of 1948 repealed all the enactments in England and Wales. In course of time, the Criminal Justice Act, 1982 came into force to regulate the institution of probation system in England.


India:- In India, the Reformative School Act, which was passed in 1897, dealt with the concept of probation. The institution of probation was accorded statutory recognition with the passing of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. Section 562 of the Code contains as may as 155 offences which come within the purview of


probation. Later, Children Act, which was passed in 1908 made movision for probation. Section 562 Cr.P.C. 1898 was repealed with the passing of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 was amended from time to time nd passed into law as the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and came into force from 1.4.1974. The Code also made provision for de system of probation (Section 360, Cr.P.C. 1973).


The Report of the Probation Officer:- The official under whose supervision, the convicted person is kept is called Probation Oficer. The period of supervision is called 'Probation Period'.The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 made provision for submission of a report of the offender by the Probation Officer. This report is called the Report of Probation Officer. The report is kept confidential. Basing on this report, the court decides whether to release or not, the person on probation. The age limit of probationer is 21 and the period of probation shall not exceed 3 years at the first instance according to Sections 6 and 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 respectively.


Advantages of Probation:

1.Probation enables a convicted person to correct himself as a responsible citizen in the society.

2. The process of probation is less expensive when compared to institutional treatment (imprisonment).

3. The Probation Officer will be able to make use of all the Community facilities for rehabilitation.

Disadvantages:- Despite above merits, the institution of probation is not free from certain demerits as follows:

1. The probation officers may be influenced (undue influence or political influence) to furnish good report so that the person convicted is released.

2. It eliminates fear among child or young delinquents and accelerates crime-rate.



2. THE PROBATION OF OFFENDERS ACT, 1958 (SALIENT FEATURES)

In order to have a comprehensive law on probation, a Bill was introduced in the Parliament. It was referred to a Joint Committee of the Houses, which submitted the Bill to Lok Sabha in February, 1958. It became an Act called the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. With the passing of the Act, Section 562 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, which contained the law on probation ceased to apply (repealed). The Act extends to the whole of Indie in any State on such date as the State Government by notification in Official Gazette appoint.

Salient Features:- The Act contains 19 sections. Salient features of the Act are stated hereunder:

Release after admonition (Section 3):- When a person below 21 years is found guilty of an offence punishable with not more than two years and no previous conviction is found against him, the court under Section 3 of the Act may release him after admonition. (If the convict is below 21 years and the offence is not punishable beyond two years and has no previous conviction the court under Section 3 of the Act may release him after admonition).

Conditional Release on Probation (Section 4):- Section 4 of the Act empowers the court to release on probation with or without surety, a person guilty of any offence other than the offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life. Section 4 envisages that the period of probation should not exceed three years at first instance.

Age limit of Probation (Section 6):- According to Section 6 of the Act, the age of probationer must be below 21 years. However, the court has a discretionary power to release on probation in exceptional cases if the punishment is not life imprisonment or death sentence. Further,


Sections 13 to 16 of the Act lay down the provisions relating to appointment of probation officer, his powers and duties Section 15 recognises probation officer as public servant. Sections 16 provides for protection to the probation officer from any legal action against his acts under good faith.


3. PAROLE Meaning:- The expression 'Parole' literally means Conditional freedom under supervision after serving a part of sentence". It is a kind of reformative scheme, which aims to correct a prisoner by conditional release. For instance, a person convicted of an offence is sentenced 10 years imprisonment. After serving a part of the sentence i.e. after 3 or 4 years, if he is released conditionally for the purpose of correction, he is said to have been released on parole. In probation, the offender is released before commencement of imprisonment and is kept under the supervision of a probation officer. Whereas in the case of parole, the offender is released conditionally after commencement of the imprisonment (or in the middle of the imprisonment) and is kept under the control of a parole officer.


Parole is the conditional release of an offender, who has already served a portion of his sentence in a correctional institution. It is also known as "premature release of offenders after a strict scrutiny of long term prisoners under the rules laid down by various Governments".

Historical Background:- Parole is not a new concept. In England it is known as 'ticket of leave', which originated in a plan worked out by Captain Alexander Maconochie on Norfolk Island in 1840. After serving a part of the sentence, a prisoner was granted ticket of leave for his good behaviour. It permitted him to enjoy conditional freedom under supervision. Therefore, Maconochie is called "the father of parole".


Object:- The main object of parole is to reform the criminals and to reduce over-crowding in prisons. Parole is not a fundamental ight, but a discretionary power of the Parole Board. Jail authorities recommend the case to Parole Board.

Procedure for Parole:- Certain classes of offender Sentenced to life imprisonment or death sentence are excluded from parole. Parole is granted after strict scrutiny by the Parole Board. The Parole Board takes into consideration various factors viz. reformation during his stay in the prison, probability of good behaviour, chances of release, possibility of employment after release, availability of home for him to go and the prisoner (applicant) must have completed /3rd of the original sentence.


Distinction between Probation and Parole:- Both Probation and Parole have certain common features. They are based on the principle of individualisation of treatment of offenders The object of both probation and parole is reformation of offenders However, one differs from the other as follows:



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