The reason for the enactment of the Act is that there are no separate probation laws at all in several States and even in States where there are probation laws, they are not uniform nor they adequate to meet the present requirements.
In addition, there has been an increasing emphasis on the reform and rehabilitation of the offenders as a useful and self-reliant member of society without subjecting him to the deleterious effects of jail life. Hence, the Government of India proposed to have a Central law on the subject which should be uniformly applicable to all the States.
It is also aimed to empower the Courts to release an offender after admonition in respect of certain specified offences. With the emergence of reformative theory of punishment the present Act has been enacted with a view to provide an offender the opportunity of improving his conducts so as to be able to live in society. Its aim is the rehabilitation of the offender.
If amateur offender is put in jail along with the criminals, the chances of his being reformed and made worthy of living in the society are diminished to a great extent.
The Act aims to empower Courts to release on probation in all suitable cases, an offender found guilty of having committed an offence not punishable with death or imprisonment for life. The Act also puts restrictions on the imprisonment in respect of offenders under 21 years of age.
The Act provides provisions to remain the offenders under the supervision of probation officers during the period of probation in order that they may be reformed and become useful members of society.
In Jugal Kishore Prasad v. State of Bihar, the Supreme Court has stated that the object of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 is to prevent the conversion of youthful offenders into obdurate criminals as a result of their association with hardened criminals of mature age in case the youthful offenders are sentenced to undergo imprisonment in jail.
In Arvind Mohan Sinha v. Mulya Kumar Biswas, it has been observed that the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 is a reformative measure and its object is to reclaim amateur offenders who can be usefully rehabilitated in society.
The Act recognizes the importance of environmental influence in the commission of crimes and prescribes a remedy whereby the offenders can be reformed and rehabilitated in society.