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Historical Perspective of Probation Law in India | Essay

Similar provisions existed in the Children Act, 1960 which were repealed consequent to passing of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. This Act was further substituted by the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The Central Government appointed a committee in 1916 to consider the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code. Particularly, it suggested revision of Section 562 and extension of its provisions to other cases also.

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The scope of probation law was extended further by the legislation in 1923. Consequent to Indian Jail Reforms Committee’s Report (1919-20), the first offenders were to be treated more liberally and could even be released unconditionally after admonition. The first offenders were classified under two categories, namely:—

(i) Male adult offenders over twenty-one years of age; and

(ii) Young male adult offenders under twenty-one years of age and female offenders of any age.

The release of offenders on probation could be extended not only to offences under the Indian Penal Code but also to offences falling under special enactments. To cope up with the extended probation, a number of Remand Homes, Rescue Homes, Certified Schools and Industrial Schools were established in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.

The Government of India in 1931, prepared a draft of Probation of Offenders Bill and circulated it to the then Provincial Governments for their views. However, the Bill could not be proceeded further due to pre-occupation of the Provincial Governments. Later, the Government of India in 1934, informed the local governments that there were no prospects of a central legislation being enacted on probation and they were free to enact suitable laws on the lines of the draft Bill.

Consequently some of the Provinces enacted probation laws which assumed considerable importance because they introduced for the first time provisions regarding pre-sentence enquiry report of probation officer, supervision by paid and voluntary probation officer and compensation for injury caused to a person by the offender’s delinquent act. The probation laws enacted by Provinces, however, lacked uniformity.

After the Indian independence, certain concrete steps were initiated to popularise probation as a correctional measure of treatment of offenders. A Probation Conference was held in Bombay in 1952 on the advice of Dr. Walter Reckless, the United Nations Technical Expert on Correctional Services.

This Conference was a milestone in the progress of probation law in India. The noted American criminologist, Dr. Walter Reckless addressed the Conference as a U.N. technical expert and gave valuable suggestions on Prison Administration in India. Consequently, All India Jail Manual Committee was formed to review the working of Indian jails and suggest measures for reform in the system.

The Committee in its Report of 1957 pointed out that there was no liaison between the government, the probation personnel, the police, and the prison administrators in implementation of the probation law. The Committee also highlighted the need for a central law on probation with greater emphasis on release of offenders on probation of good conduct so that they are reclaimed as self-reliant members of society without being subjected to deleterious effects of prison life.

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