Legal provisions regarding removal of disqualification attaching to conviction under Section 12 of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.
Section 12 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 provides that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, a person found guilty of an offence and dealt with under the provisions of Section 3 or Section 4 shall not suffer disqualification, if any, attaching to a conviction of an offence under such law. However, nothing in this Section shall apply to a person who, after his release under Section 4, is subsequently sentenced for the original offence.
In Ranjit Paul v. State of Punjab, the Court has held that Section 12 of the Act absolves the offender of all the disqualifications which are attached to a conviction when the benefit under Section 4 of the Act is given to a convict.
The words “attaching to a conviction of an offence under such law” refer to two contingencies: (i) that there must be a disqualification resulting from a conviction; and (ii) that such disqualification must be provided by some law other than the Probation of Offenders Act. For instance, if a law provides for disqualification of a person for being appointed in any office or for seeking election to any authority or body in view of his conviction, that qualification by virtue of Section 12 stands removed.
The meaning of the word ‘qualification’ is the possession of some merit or quality which makes the possessors eligible to apply for or to get some benefit and the word ‘disqualification’ has the opposite meaning and it means a disability on the person to whom the disqualification is attached in applying for or getting such benefit.
Section 12 of the Probation of Offenders Act would apply only in respect of a disqualification that goes with a conviction under the law which provides for the offence and its punishment. That is the plain meaning of the words “disqualification, if any, attaching to a conviction of an offence under such law.”
In Union of India v. Bakshi Ram, the Supreme Court has held that in criminal trial the conviction is one thing and sentence is another. The departmental punishment for misconduct is yet a third one.
The Court while invoking the provisions of Section 3 or 4 of the Act does not deal with the conviction, it only deals with the sentence which the offender has to undergo. Instead of sentencing the offender, the Court releases him on probation of good conduct.
The conviction, however, remains untouched and the stigma of conviction is not obliterated. In the departmental proceedings the delinquent could be dismissed or removed or reduced to rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his conviction on criminal charge. Hence, Section 12 of the Act does not preclude the department for taking action for misconduct leading to the offence or to his conviction thereon as per law.