Crime and punishment
Randeep Wadehra
Gandhi’s View of Legal Justice
by Ajit Atri
Deep & Deep, N. Delhi.
Pages: xix + 284. Rs 650

The title of this book might confuse you as Mahatma Gandhi was never really a legal eagle, but a political creature wearing moralistic-idealistic plumes. True, he was a barrister by qualification and did fight and win a few lawsuits in South Africa and India. He could never become a barrister by profession or attitude. During his struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa and for India’s independence he often had to transgress extant laws. Even during his trials, Champaran for example, he skilfully exploited the charges against himself by presenting the moralistic aspects of the issues involved.

Therefore, you will find Atri’s book valuable in knowing the details of the Mahatma/s modus-operandi in various courts of justice rather than any clearly enunciated views on legal justice, although he notes that Gandhiji regarded crime as curable disease and opposed punishment having even a modicum of violent content in it. Atri further observes, "Rejecting the retributive and deterrent theories of punishment" Gandhiji supported human touch in the award of punishment. A useful addition to Gandhiana.

Blood bath after Ranjit Singh
by Avtar Singh Gill
Jaswant Printers, Ludhiana.
Pages 200. Rs 200.

Voltaire had dubbed history as ‘accepted fiction’. Perhaps he is right for whoever chronicles an event cannot possibly eschew bias. But, even if one accepts history as absolutely true and unadulterated narration of past happenings one can’t help wondering as to what actually history is. A logbook of treachery, blood and gore? A journal of sexual politics and personal prejudices? A treatise on the basest human instincts? Perhaps all this and much more. The ‘much more’ comprising noble, humanitarian and constructive aspects of civilisational endeavors. But Gill has focused on the sordid aspects of the closure of one of the most glorious chapters of Punjab’s history that jolt you out of reverie. Although he does resort to dramatics in his narrative this book is worthy as a reference book.

Science and God
by Balbir Sandhu
Deep & Deep, N. Delhi.
Pages: xiii+141. Rs 300.

Science is based on rational investigation of all phenomena. It shuns dogmas and dogmatism. But it has its limitations and drawbacks. As Martin Luther King, the late Black American civil rights leader, once observed, ‘We have genuflected before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.’ Moreover, as it does not have answers to all our problems it becomes necessary for one to turn to God. If, as the agnostic Ingersoll says, reason, observation, and experience are the ‘Holy Trinity of Science’, then faith is the progenitor of God. Nobody has seen Him yet a vast majority of mankind believes in Him. Sandhu has tried to explore several issues involving science and God. Perhaps you would like to join the debate?