Report of Probation officer to be called before granting probation under Section 4(2) of Probation of Offenders Act

Bombay High Court: Deciding an appeal against the sentence awarded by the trial court on ground of its inadequacy, a single judge bench of A.I.S. Cheema, J., has observed that while granting benefit of probation, courts shall ensure compliance of provisions of Probation of Offenders Act, and when probation is to be granted under Section 4 (1) of the Act, courts shall collect information by calling a report of the probation officer as contemplated by Section 4 (2) of the Act.

In the instant case, a bus driver who caused the death of a 13 year old boy by driving at high speed in a congested area, was convicted under Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The trial court, however instead of passing a sentence of imprisonment or fine, directed his release on the bond of Rs.5000 and the bond of one month’s period as contemplated in Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act. The  Court observed that neither the trial court has called any report as contemplated under Section 4 (2) of the Act, nor did it pass any supervising order under Section 4(3) of the Act. The court also found that the record didn’t demonstrate that any bond as mentioned in the operative order was ever taken, and thus quashed the order for non-compliance of law. Justice Cheema further admonished the lenient approach of the trial court for granting probation on the grounds that the convict was a retired military man and the fact that it was a first incident while absolutely ignoring the plight of victims.

The court thus sentenced the convict a simple imprisonment till rising of the Court and directed him to pay compensation of Rs.40,000/- to the deceased’s father, taking into account his old age and low retirement income. The court also recommended the District Legal Services Authority, Jalgaon to decide the quantum of further compensation to be paid to the deceased’s father by the state since it was responsible for congestion and chaos in streets in which citizens are put to constant risks. [State of Maharashtra v. Madhav Vitthal Bansode, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2297, decided on 25. 04. 2016]

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