The word ‘Probation’ is derived from the Latin word “Porbo” which means “I prove my merit”.
As a result, Probation involves the process of proving one’s worth and developing a character that enables one to be released.
Legally, Probation means discharging a person subject to commitment by the suspension of sentence, during the regularity of conduct, and on default thereof – arresting and committing him until imprisonment is served or judgment is satisfied.
It is a substitute for imprisonment, a conditional suspension of the sentence.
Object of Probation:
The object of Probation is to bring lawbreakers and anti-social persons into willing cooperation with the community of which he is the member. Thus giving him security which he needs and social protection against his attacks on person or property.
The function of Probation is to render improvement in the character of the offender, his permanent rehabilitation and reformation of the offender.
It is based on reformative theory, where it is believed that the punishment will not serve the purpose in all such cases of offenders, thus involves molding of individual habits in a more constructive way.
The purpose is that an accused person, who is guilty of crime, must be given a chance for reformation which he would lose being incarcerated by prison.
Powers of court to release certain offenders on Probation of Good Conduct under The Probation Offenders Act 1958:
The provision of section (4) of this Act vests in the court a discretion of releasing a person who is guilty of having committing an offence punishable with death of imprisonment for life. It is upon the court by which the person is found guilty to determine having regard of the circumstances of the case including the nature of the case and character of the offender. Whether or not it will be expedient to release the offender on Probation of Good Conduct, it is only when the court forms an opinion that in a given case, the offender should be released on Probation.
Where, however the court is not satisfied with justification, for release in Probation of good conduct, it will certainly impose penalty on offender as provided by the Indian Panel Code.
The offender can be ordered by the court to sign a bond, with or without sureties, promising to show up and receive their penalty if required during that time. The period of Probation cannot be availed for more than 3 years.
Provisions related to Probation in Cr.P.C:
The provision of Probation is covered under Section-360 of Cr.P.C.
As per the Section, Any person who is not below twenty one years and is convicted of a crime for which the punishment is imprisonment for seven years or is convicted for an offence punishable with fine. Or any person who is below twenty one years or if any women is convicted for an offence not punishable with imprisonment of life or death or no previous conviction is proved against the offender, appears before the court, regardless of the circumstances in which he has committed the offence, the court might release the offender on the promise of good conduct.
The court might release him on entering the bond for good conduct and peace instead of punishing the offender with imprisonment.
Judicial Trends towards Probation:
Lakhan lal vs State of Madhya Pradesh- 2019 (2) RCR (Criminal) 1012- Supreme Court held that Section 360 of Cr.P.C is an addition to the Probation of offenders Act, 1958 and the offender can avail the benefits of any one of them.
Daulat Ram v. State of Haryana- 1972 AIR (Supreme Court) 2434 – It was decided that the purpose of the act was to safeguard the children. If the young offender crimes weren’t heinous enough to warrant life in prison or death sentences, they wouldn’t be detained.
The idea behind all the laws for Probation is to give a chance to the offender to reform and the criminal mind of the offender an ultimatum to serve good conduct for a period of not exceeding 3 years rather them harassing him with instances of human rights violations and overcrowded jails which could make a prisoner more criminal in nature.