Potpourri

THE TRIALS OF GANDHIJI

Gandhiji’s Statement as Recorded in Court

Mr. M. K. Gandhi, 53, Farmer and weaver by Profession, residing at Satyagraha Ashram, Sabarmati, Ahmedabad said:

“I simply wish to state that when the proper time comes, I shall plead guilty so far as disaffection towards the Government is concerned. It is quite true that I am Editor of the Young India and that the articles read in my presence were written by me, and the proprietors and publishers had permitted me to control the whole policy of the paper.”

Mr. Shankarlal Banker, landed proprietor, Bombay, Second Accused stated that at the proper time he would plead guilty to the charge of having published the articles complained of.

Charges were then framed on three counts under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code and the two Accused were committed to the Sessions.
The case having been committed to the Sessions, Gandhiji was taken to the Sabarmati Jail where he was detained till the hearing which was to come off on Saturday the 18th March.

At last the trial came off on Saturday the 18th March, 1922 before Mr. C.N. Broomfield I.C.S., District and Sessions Judge, Ahmedabad. See Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi , 4th Ed., Natesan, Madras, p. 693]

At the Government Circuit House at Shahibagh, Ahmedabad, the trial of Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Banker commenced at 12 noon on Saturday, the 18th of March, 1922 before C.N. Broomfield Esq., i.c.s., District and Session Judge, Ahmedabad.

Sir Thomas Strangman, Advocate- General, Bombay assisted by A.C. Wild Esq., Legal Remembrancer to the Government of Bombay, and Rao Bahadur Girdharilal, Public Prosecutor conducted the prosecution. The Accused were undefended. The Judge took his seat at 12 noon, and said there was a slight mistake in the charges framed, which he corrected. The charges under S. 124-A, Indian Penal Code were then read out by the Registrar, the offence having been committed in three articles published in the Young India on September 29, 1921, December 15, 1921, and February 23, 1922. The offending articles were then read out: first of them was, “Tempering with Loyalty”, the second, “The Puzzle and Its Solution”, and the last was “Shaking the Manes”.

The Judge said the Law required that the charges should not only be read out, but explained. In this case, it would not be necessary for him to say much by way of explanation. The charge in each case was that of bringing or attempting to bring into hatred or contempt or exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty’s Government, established by law in British India. Both the accused were charged with the three offences under Section 124-A, contained in the articles read out, written by Mr. Gandhi and printed by Mr. Banker. The words ‘hatred and contempt’ were words the meaning of which was sufficiently obvious. The word disaffection was defined under the section, where they were told that disaffection included disloyalty and feelings of enmity, and the word used in the section had also been interpreted by the High Court of Bombay in a reported case as meaning political alienation or discontent, a spirit of disloyalty to Government or existing authority. The charges having been read out, the Judge called upon the accused to plead to the charges. He asked Mr. Gandhi, whether he pleaded guilty or claimed to be tried.

Mr. GANDHI: I plead guilty to all the charges. I observe that the King’s name has been omitted from the charges, and it has been properly omitted.
The JUDGE: Mr. Banker, do you plead guilty, or do you claim to be tried?

Mr. BANKER: I plead guilty.

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