Section 3 – Power of Court to release certain offenders – Probation of Offenders Act

Explanation:

For the purposes of this section, previous conviction against a person shall include any previous order made against him under this section or Section 4.

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Comment:

The section provides for the release of certain offenders after admonition. The offender is warned that if he commits any offence in future, he shall be liable to punishment under the law. Before applying the provisions of this section-, the- Court takes into consideration—(1) the circumstances of the case (2) the nature of the offence, (3) the character of the accused, and (4) the fact of his previous conviction, if any.

Case law:

In Sunna v. State, the accused aged twenty years was found guilty of an offence under Section 380,1.P.C. for committing theft of a bicycle and some clothes. The Court ordered his release after admonition under Section 3 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 because there was no previous conviction of the accused and the theft was committed due to sudden temptation without any premeditation.

In yet another case of Kehar Singh v. Regional Employment Officer, Chandigarh} the petitioner was convicted for the offence of Section 380, I.P.C. and was dealt with under Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. He was removed from service consequent to the decision of the Court. On appeal, he was reinstated on the ground that a person released on probation suffers no disqualification attaching to his conviction as provided under Section 12 of the Act.

Again, in case of Sanchu Roy v. State of Assam, where the accused was about 19/20 years of age and had no previous criminal antecedents was sentenced to one year R. I. Keeping in view the fact that the accused was of a tender age and the offence was committed ten years ago, the Supreme Court directed him to be released on probation of good conduct with a bond of Rs. 1000/- with one surety of like amount.

In the case of State of Karnataka v. M. Chandrappa and another, the State filed an appeal against the order passed by the High Court for release of the accused on probation. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and observed that it was a fit case where accused could be released on admonition with direction that conviction would not be a disqualification for holding post and continuance of service.

In this case, the accused assaulted a constable who was waiting for a bus that would reach him to Police Station. He was found guilty of Sections 352 and 353,1.P.C. The accused was a teacher who had come to know that there was some enquiry against him and this constable had enquired about him.

Hence seeing the constable, he abused him and assaulted him under mental pressure. The Supreme Court held that the constable could not be said to be engaged in executing his duty at the time of incident and hence the accused was allowed the benefit of Section 3 of the Probation of Offenders Act. The Apex Court had expressed a similar view in its earlier decision in Rajbir v. State of Haryana.

In Sunil Kumar Paricia v. State of Orissa, the Supreme Court ordered the release of the accused who had undergone a part of his imprisonment, giving him benefit of Sections 3 and 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act so that he could get the benefit of Section 12 of the Act and may not be adversely affected by the disqualification attached with conviction and imprisonment. The Court directed the accused to appear before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Neelgirima and receive the probation order within six weeks.

In the case of Gudda v. State of Madhya Pradesh,1 the appellant caused nineteen injuries to the complainant and was convicted under Section 323,1.P.C. and sentenced to R.I. for one month and a fine of Rs. 500/-.

In default of payment of fine, he was to undergo two months’ further R.I. In appeal against this conviction, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh held that it was not known to the Court as to who had caused extra injuries, whether it was the appellant or the absconding accused named Vakeel.

That apart, there was no dispute that the appellant was a first offender and there was no previous criminal record against him. He was, therefore, entitled to the benefit of Section 3 or 4 and 5 of the Act: He would, however, pay the sum of Rs. 5,000/- as compensation to the victim who suffered as many as nineteen simple injuries.

The High Court of Madhya Pradesh held in the case of Raju v. State of Madhya Pradesh that the benefit of first offender may be available to an accused who caused simple hurt to the complainant without any dispute and was convicted for an offence under Section 323,1.P.C. because award of sentence is not mandatory for an offence under this section and it may be punishable only with payment of fine.

Thus taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances, the Court held that the accused persons who are rustic villagers deserve to be let-off on payment of fine without extending the benefit of Sections 3, 4 or 6 of the Probation Act.