It would be impossible for me to refer in this speech to all the aspects of Gandhiji’s legal philosophy. I, therefore, propose to deal only with one or two of the aspects of that philosophy and the question of their general validity.
But before I do so, let me pay a tribute to the skillful manner in which Gandhiji analysed and discussed some of the material law cases from the unhappy Punjab of those days in the columns of Young India. Gandhiji had then to his credit legal practice of about 20 years mostly in South Africa. As far as is known, he does not seem to have appeared in any case in the Bombay High Court. But as I was saying, the manner in which Gandhiji analysed and discussed these cases arouses one’s admiration. His observation about the usual defence o alibi, about the identification parades, about the entries in the police diaries, or the value of approver’s evidence or his caution in not accepting extraneous evidence reveal him as a lawyer having a very keen insight into the intricacies of criminal law, and the principles which he touched are valid even today in the light of the rulings of our highest Courts. I would particularly mention in this connection Gandhiji’s article on the case of Karamchand, a student of the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, I do not know how far the articles in Young India affected the ultimate decision of the Government of India which reviewed some of these cases. But there can be no doubt that those articles aroused and galvanized public opinion in the whole country regarding the enormity of the happenings in the Punjab which otherwise might have been perhaps a closed book.
Excerpts from the speech delivered by Justice B N Gokhale on July 1, 1963 at a symposium organised by Gandhi Samarak Nidhi at Bombay.