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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