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THE TRIALS OF GANDHIJI – Advocate-General Urges Trial

Sir Thomas Strangman then wanted the Judge to proceed with the trial fully. He said that under Section 271, Criminal Procedure Code, it was open to the Judge to convict the accused on their pleas or to proceed with the trial. The Section says: ‘If the accused pleads guilty, the plea shall be recorded and he may be convicted thereon.’ The words were ‘may’, not must’. He asked his honour to proceed with the trial. In the first instance the charges were of a serious character and in the second place it was highly desirable in the public interest that those charges should be fully and thoroughly investigated. From a further and narrower point of view that was in regard to the sentence it was obvious that the Judge could not deal with the accused unless he had the full facts of the case before him. That was the view taken by the Bombay High Court, (19 Bombay Law Reports, p.356). That was an extreme case. (The advocate –general then read out the case to the court and it was in regard to a murder charge in which the accused was sentenced to be hanged.) Those remarks applied to the present case, said Sir Strangman, and he also quoted 23 Madras 151. On these grounds the Advocate-General asked the court to proceed with the trial.

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