S.K. Kapur, J.
1. K.C. Aggarwal applicant was convicted under Section 420 read with Section 511 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5,000. In default of payment of fine, he was ordered to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for one and a half months. The applicant's appeal in this court also failed. He has now made an application under Sections 3 and 4, read with Section 11 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, with a prayer that the applicant should be released under Section 3, or in the alternative under Section 4, of the said Act.
2. So far as Sections 3 and 4 are concerned, there appears to be serious difficulty in applying the said provisions. Both these sections lay down that the Court may, instead of sentencing an accused person to any punishment, deal with him in accordance with the said sections. It appears from the language used that the power can be exercised only when the Court has found a person guilty and is deciding upon the punishment to be awarded. That seems to follow from the use of the word 'instead' in both the Sections 3 and 4. Once a person has been convicted and sentenced, I do not think that the Court can exercise discretion under the said sections. More or less on the same lines is the language of Section 562 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and while interpreting that provision, the Andhra Pradesh High Court in In Re Adapa Hanumantha Rao, AIR 1957 Andh Pra 413, took the view indicated by me above. Mr. Khanna, learned counsel for the applicant, says that by adopting this construction I would be defeating the very object of the legislation and thus creating a hole in an Act intended to be a social reform measure. True, that in the field of statutory construction the intent of the legislature is of supreme importance. But since the legislature must manifest its intent by a written statute, that intent must primarily be ascertained from the language used in the statute itself and not from conjectures aliunde.
Before the Courts can resort to any other source for assistance, it must first seek to find the legislative intention from the words and sentences which make up the statute subject to construction. It the meaning of the language of the statute is plain, then according to the rule announced in innumerable cases no need for construction really arises, as the intention stands revealed by the apparent meaning. It is said that a deflection from the letter of the law is called for in a statute like the present. I am afraid I cannot call a coach and four anything but a vehicle. Having regard to the language, I find it impossible to accede to the contention of the applicant. Mr. Khanna sought to overcome this difficulty by resort to the language of Section 11. He says that Sub-section (1) of Section 11 clearly confers jurisdiction on the High Court to pass any order under this Act at any stage and even after an accused man has been convicted and sentenced. His main emphasis is on the words 'and also by the High Court' in Sub-section (1) of Section 11. It is said that the words 'when the case comes before it on appeal or in revision' do not get with the words 'by the High Court' but only with the words 'or any other Court', and in that view the High Court should be held competent to pass an order under this Act irrespective of the fact whether any appeal or revision is pending before it. Reference is made to Rattan Lal v. State of Punjab, AIR 1965 SC 444.
In that case, an accused was convicted on 31-5-1962 under Sections 451 and 354, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 200. The Probation of Offenders Act was extended to the place, of which the accused was resident on 1-9-1962. His appeal before the Sessions Judge and revision before the High Court were dismissed on 22-9-1962 and 27-9-1962 respectively. The point of the application of the Probation or Offenders Act was not raised before the petition, an application was made requesting the High Court to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 11 of the said Act and to pass orders under Sections 3, 4 or 6 thereof. This application was also dismissed. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court held that the High Court, in revision, could exercise the power conferred under Section 11 of the Act and remand the case to the lower Court for an appropriate order under the said Act. This judgment is relied on to show that the power can be exercised even after the matter has been disposed of by the High Court in appellate or revisional jurisdiction. The case before the Supreme Court was of an accused person of the age of sixteen years. Consequently, the provisions of Section 6 were attracted. Under Section 6, the Court is obliged not to sentence the accused to imprisonment, unless it is satisfied that, having regard to the circumstances of the case including the nature of the offence and the character of the offender, ft is not desirable to deal with him under Section 3 or 4. In view of the imperative language of Section 6, it was not open to the High Court to sentence the accused to imprisonment, unless the conditions set out in the section were satisfied.
The position is not the same under Sections 3 or 4. There, a discretion is given to the Court to apply the said provisions, if satisfied having regard to the factors mentioned therein, instead of sentencing the accused to any punishment. At the time of the arguments an appeal, the question of applying this Act was never raised. At no stage of the proceedings was it shown to the Court that the circumstances of the case, the nature of the offence and particularly the character of the offender, justified treatment under Sections 3 and 4. If, therefore, the limitation for exercise of power after a person has been sentenced obtains, it cannot be open now to regitate the matter by a subsequent application. Reverting again to the argument founded on Section 11(1), I am of the opinion that the High Court can exercise that power only when the case comes up before it on appeal or in revision. It is in accord with reality that every statute must be subjected to interpretation, its meaning ascertained and then the same applied to the case at hand. The legislative history and the assistance from other sections of the Act, namely, Sections 3 and 4, lead me to the irresistible conclusion that the words 'when the case comes before it on appeal or in revision' go also with the words 'by the High Court'.
In Rattan Lal's case, AIR 1965 SC 444 also, some observations made by the Supreme Court lend support to the interpretation canvassed on behalf of the respondent. It is said, 'the phraseology used therein (Sub-section (1) of Section 11) Is wide enough to enable the appellate Court or the High Court, when the case comes before it, to make such an order.' Apart from that, there is yet another difficulty. Sub-section (1) of Section 11 entitles a Court to make an order 'under this Act'. To make an order under Section 4, therefore, I must go back to Section 4 and see how and when that order can be made. If the language of Section 4 does not permit that order being made after awarding the sentence, I see no provision under which I can do so. In the result, this application fails and is dismissed.