Potpourri

THE TRIALS OF GANDHIJI

Mr. Gandhi gave his word that all would appear before the respective magistrates at 10 a.m. next day and the Commissioner accepted this guarantee. Next morning when he attended at the British Criminal Court, he was asked by the Superintendent whether he held duly issued registration certificates under Law 2 of 1907 and upon receiving replies in the negative, he was promptly arrested and charged under Section 8 Sub- Section 2 of Act 2 of 1907, in that he was in the Transvaal without a registration certificate issued under the Act. The Court was crowded to excess and it seemed as if at one time the barrier would be overthrown.

Mr. D. G. Shurman prosecuted on behalf of the Crown.

Mr Gandhi pleaded guilty

Superintendent Vernon gave evidence as to the arrest

Mr. Gandhi asked no question but went into the box prepared to make a statement. He said what he was about to state was not evidence but he hoped the Court would grant him indulgence to make a short explanation seeing that he was an officer of that Court. He wished to say why he had not submitted to this.

Mr. JORDAN: (Magistrate): I don’t think that has anything to do with it. The law is there, and you have disobeyed it. I do not want any political speeches made.

Mr. GANDHI: I do not want to make any political speeches.

Mr. JORDON: The question is, have you registered or not? If you have not registered there is an end of the case. If you have any explanation to offer as regards the order I am going to make that is another story. There is the law which has been passed by the Transvaal Legislature and sanctioned by the Imperial Government. All I have to do and all I can do is to administer that law as it stands.

Mr. GANDHI: I do not wish to give any evidence in extenuation and I know that legally I cannot evidence at all.

Mr. JORDON: All I have to deal with is legal evidence. What you want to say, I suppose, is that you do not approve of the law and you conscientiously resist it.

Mr. GANDHI: That is perfectly true.

Mr. JORDON: I will take the evidence if you say you conscientiously object.

Mr. Gandhi was proceeding to state when he came to the Transvaal and the fact that he was Secretary to the British Indian Association when Jordon said he did not see how that affected the case.

Mr. GANDHI: I said that before and I simply asked the indulgence of the Court for five minutes.

Mr. JORDON: I don’t think this is a case in which the Court should grant any indulgence; you have defied the law.

Mr. GANDHI: Very well, Sir, then I have nothing more to say.

The Magistrate then ordered Mr. Gandhi to leave the country in 48 hours.

Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, 4th Ed., Natesan, Madras, pp. 49-51

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