Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/218

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128 THR SOUTH AFRICAN INDIAN QUESTION

have therein stated definitely that I do nob wish fro restricts' the future action of noy countrymen and I have simply recorded the definition of 'vested rights' I diecua- eed with Sir Benjamin Robertson on the 4th Maroh, 1914, saying that hy " vested rights I understand the right of An Indian and his successors to live and trade in town- ships in which he was living and trading, no matter bow often he shifts hia residence or business from place to place in the same township." This is the definition on which the whole of the theory of evasion of law and breach of faith has been based. Apart from the question of irrelevance of the letter I claim that it could not be used, even if it could be admitted as part of the agreement, in the manner it has been. As I have already stated on previous occasions there waa a prospect of an adverse interpretation of the Gold Law as to trade licences, and there was the tangible difficulty in getting land or leases of buildings and it wa by the most strenuous efforts that Indians were able within Qold Areas to retain their foothold. I was anxious to protect the existing traders and their successors even though the legal interpretation of the law might be adverse to the Indian claim. The vested right,, therefore, referred to in my letter of the 7fch July was a right created in spite of the law, And it was this right that had to bfr protected in the administration of the then existing laws. Even if, therefore, my said letter can be incorporated in the agreement, by no cannon of interpretation that I know can it be said to prevent the Indians morally (for that ia the meaning of the charge of breach of faith) from getting new trade licences in virtue of the law of the land, Indians openly and in a fair fight gained in their favour a legal decision to the effect that they could obtain trade licences against tender of the licence fee even within the

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