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Restrictions on imprisonment of offenders under twenty-one years of age (Section 6 of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958)

(2) For the purpose of satisfying itself whether it would not be desirable to deal under Section 3 or Section 4 with an offender referred to in sub-section (1), the Court shall call for a report from the probation officer and consider the report, if any, and other information available to it relating to the character and physical and mental conditions of the offender.

Provisions of Section 6 of the Act are mandatory However, even if the applicant is assumed to be below 18 years of age, he has no mandatory right under Section 33 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

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In Rajeshwari Prasad v. Ram Babu Gupta, it is held that Section 6 of the Act imposes a duty upon the Court not to subject juvenile offenders to a sentence of imprisonment unless it is satisfied that his case does not fall within the purview of Section 4 of the Act.

In Masarullah v. State of Tamil Nadu, the Court has granted the benefit of probation having regard to nature of offence, the character of offender, the age of offender being under twenty-one years who came under the undesirable influence of movie eulogising crime and showing criminal a daring person.

In State of Maharashtra v. Vinayak Tukaram Utckar, it is held that the benefit of Section 6 of the Probation of Offenders Act cannot be extended to the offence under Section 394 of the Indian Penal Code as it is punishable with imprisonment for life.

In Jai Gopal v. State, the Court has held that the material date to determine the applicability of Section 6 of the Act is the date of decision of the trial Court when it convicts him. If the accused is less than 21 years of age at the time of his conviction by the trial Court, the Court must release him on probation under Section 6 of the Act.

If the Court decides not to release him on probation, then it must call the report of the Probation Officer under Section 6(2) of the Act whose provisions are mandatory. If the Court calls for no report of the Probation Officer, the benefit of probation cannot be denied considering the age of offenders, nothing has been brought on record to show that they are persons of bad character or having previous conviction to their credit.

In Motty Philipose and Another v. State of Kerala, it was held that relevant date for determining age of offender for applying Section 6 is the date of conviction and not the date of commission of offence. In this case accused had crossed age of 21 years as on date of conviction, thus Section 6 of the Probation of Offenders Act cannot be applied in this case.

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