Judicial whitewashing : The Tribune India

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Lahore, Tuesday, June 10, 1924

Judicial whitewashing



IF Mr Justice McCardie’s whitewashing of Gen Dyer and of the whole body of wrong-doers under Martial Law was as bold a piece of judicial special pleading and absurdity as any Judge ever made himself responsible for, his whitewashing of the administration of Sir Michael O’Dwyer was scarcely less so. In both cases, the argument was much the same. Nobody had questioned the honesty of the officials concerned. This would have been a bad enough plea, even if the officials had been literally and technically on their defence before his lordship, especially in a criminal case. It was an entirely rotten plea, considering that the chief of these officials figured in the case, not as defendant but as plaintiff. Here the sole question was whether the defendant was justified, as a matter of fair criticism upon known facts, in making the remarks he had made. The honesty of the officials had nothing whatever to do with the matter. What the then Secretary of State said in his dispatch on the report of the Hunter Committee in regard to Gen Dyer is substantially true of all of them. The gravest feature of the case against them is their avowed conception of their duty in the circumstances which confronted them. It was literally a case of the path to a certain unnameable place being paved with noble intentions. Apart from this ingenious line of defence, there was another in the case of Sir O’Dwyer which clearly carried the absurdity a step further. “There was not a single witness,” said the Judge in words which would have been more appropriate in the mouth of senior plaintiff, “who could say that he told Sir O’Dwyer (that terrorism prevailed in Punjab).”


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