Report No. 142
(a) For reasons of safety and in order to foreclose misuse, it would be proper to restrict the applicability of the scheme to first offenders only so that there is no room for apprehension that those who secure a concessional treatment may indulge in the same activity under the belief that concessional treatment may be extended to them.
(b) For the same reason it would be appropriate to exclude those who have secured the concessional treatment once, from again seeking a similar treatment in future.
(c) Public opinion is against the extension of the scheme to socio-economic offences of a non-technical nature altogether. It being a sensitive issue, prudence demands that these offences are excluded from the purview of the scheme. However, the scheme may be extended to such offences in future in the light of the experience gathered in the working of the scheme in other areas and in the light of a public debate in the context thereof.
The option to extend the scheme to this area may be kept open, for, the scheme may perhaps be applied with the rider that a minimum substantive sentence of say six months or an year or of a specified term shall be imposed on the offenders. Once an offender is made to undergo the rigours of a jail sentence it would serve the objective of deterrence to the offender himself as also to those who are like minded. It is not as if an offender will commit a crime if he has to undergo a substantive jail for say six months but will not do so if he is liable to be punished to a longer term.
In fact with an acquittal ratio of 75% to 90%, the temptation to commit crime is already there as it is. On the other hand, a plea of guilty will result in early conviction and swift sentence with the purpose of punishment being served better. It is, therefore, desirable to keep the option open and extend the scheme to such offences also in future taking into a account the result of the working of the scheme in relation to other offences and the public debate in the light thereof.
(d) The same reasoning will apply with equal force as regards offences against women and children which may be excluded from the purview of the scheme presently. The guidelines in the aforesaid terms may serve the purpose.
9.37. The scheme may be made applicable in a phased manner Initially may be made applicable to offences punishable with a jail term of less than seven years. It may be extended to the offences punishable with a jail term exceeding 7 years (but excluding those punishable with death or imprisonment for life) in the second phase. And to the excluded category only in the third phase provided the working of the scheme in the first phase is found satisfactory in the wake of a public debate in the light of the experience gathered in the course of the first phase.