SC criticises cavalier manner of sentencing

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The Supreme Court has denounced “cavalier” manner of sentencing in criminal cases, which often leads to rise in the number of appeals to the top court, saying punishment should not be taken for granted as it has a direct impact on the society.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Ajay Rastogi said that sentencing has to be analysed on the touchstone of three tests viz, crime, criminal and comparative proportionality tests.

“We are of the opinion that a large number of cases are being filed before this court, due to insufficient or wrong sentencing undertaken by the courts below. We have time and again cautioned against the cavalier manner in which sentencing is dealt in certain cases,” the bench said.

“There is no gainsaying that the aspect of sentencing should not be taken for granted, as this part of the criminal justice system has a determinative impact on the society,” Justice Ramana said on behalf of the bench.

Giving further clarity on the subject, the bench said, three tests of sentencing should be considered, like how the crime took place, the extent of planning, use of weapon, role of accused and the state of victim and seriousness of injuries. Secondly criminal test, which involved assessment of age, gender, background, motivation etc should also be taken note of.

The top court explained the legal position with regard to sentencing in a judgement on October 22.

It modified the Madhya Pradesh High Court's judgement on an appeal by the state government against the reduction of sentence against Udham and three others in a case related to the offences of causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons and house-trespass. The HC had set free all the four convicts by sentencing them to the period of custody of four days, undergone by them during the trial. The top court enhanced the punishment to three months in jail for three convicts and two months for another one, in view of his 80-year of age.

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