Page:Forty Thousand Followers of Gandhi in Prison.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


and giving judicial colour to the wishes and the policy of the Executive. In the case of Lala Lajpat Rai, the Court even went further, and though the Government Advocate clearly said that he could not press for a conviction under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the Court rejected his contention and sentenced Mr. Rai to one year’s inprisonment. The fact that the non-co-operators would not defend themselves or appeal seems to have emboldened both the magistrate and the prosecuting agency, with the result that the cases are conducted in a most haphazard fashion and without any due regard paid to the forms of law or the substance of it.

Then, again, very often prisoners are kept handcuffed in court, a most unnecessary and barbarous procedure, considering that these prisoners who willingly offer themselves for arrest cannot, in the least degree, be considered dangerous or likely to escape.

Treatment in jails disgraceful. The treatment of political prisoners in jails is really disgraceful. In the Punjab the policy actually put into practice seems to be to make the jail life of these people as hard and unbearable as possible. Complaints are pouring in from all the jails, except a few, that the action of the authorities can only be construed as evidence.

The Punjab Council passed a resolution that political prisoners ought to be given better treatment. But the Council has ignored it, and the Government has stuck to its position that it was not going to give this treatment to all without distinction. Sir John Maynard quite lost his temper during this debate and went so far as to say that the Government was not prepared to give special treatment to every “scoundrel” who might get arrested in a political offence. It is, indeed, regrettable that in this country alone no recognition should be given to a person who suffers for his opinions and whose offence involves no moral turpitude. I would have no complaint to make if the Government frankly put forward the proposition that they meant to make the life of the non-co-operators in jail as hard as possible, so

11