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Understanding crime test, criminal test and comparative proportionality test |
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Understanding crime test, criminal test and comparative proportionality test
Dr KK Aggarwal,  31 October 2019
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Three tests form the basic principles when sentencing for crimes has to be analysed. These tests are:  crime   test,   criminal   test   and   comparative proportionality   test. 

In a recent decision in the matter of State of Madhya Pradesh vs Udham and Others, Criminal Appeal No. 690 of 2014, Supreme Court of India, October 22, 2019, Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shanthanagoudar and Justice Ajay Rastogi briefly explained the three tests to be applied while sentencing in a criminal case

  • Crime   test involves   factors   like   extent   of planning, choice of weapon, modus of crime, disposal modus (if any), role of the accused, anti-social or abhorrent character of the crime, state of victim.

The   crime   test ascertains seriousness of the crime, which may be done by (i) bodily integrity of the victim (ii) loss of material   support   or   amenity   (iii)   extent   of   humiliation   and   (iv) privacy breach.

  • Criminal test assesses factors like age and gender of the criminal, socioeconomic condition of the criminal, motivation for crime, availability of defense, state of mind, instigation by the deceased or any one from the   deceased   group,   adequately   represented   in   the   trial, disagreement   by   a   judge   in   the   appeal   process,   repentance, possibility of reformation, prior criminal record (not to take pending cases) and any other relevant factor (not an exhaustive list).
  • Comparative proportionality   test: This test determines whether a given death sentence is "excessive or disproportionate" compared to the penalty imposed in “similar cases”. 

A comparative proportionality review is conducted by the Washington Supreme Court in all cases in which the death sentence has been given. Ideally, the review should provide the procedural means to alter a death sentence to a sentence of life in prison if it is found that the death sentence has been arbitrarily imposed on a defendant compared to other defendants. The Comparative proportionality review legislation finds its origin in the United States Supreme Court case “Furman v. Georgia”.

The above should also be applicable to medical councils, when they decide to suspend the license of a doctor to practice medicine.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA

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