The Council of Elders : The Tribune India

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Lahore, Saturday, March 17, 1923

The Council of Elders

SIR M. Dadabhoy, who has given so many signal proofs of his reactionary tendencies, has declared that “the Council of Elders should not be foolish enough to go out of its way to show sympathy to those who had shown no sign of penitence and some of whom talked of entering the Councils with a view to wrecking the Constitution.” It did not evidently occur to the speaker that for the Council of Elders to take up this attitude in regard to the largest and most influential section of politically minded Indians thus early in its career was the surest way to antagonise this country and thus prepare the ground for a radical change in its own constitution and composition. The experiment has been tried before now by the Council of Elders in England and other countries—with consequences that we all know. As compared with this attitude, even the attitude of the Home Secretary was more reasonable. While opposing the motion on the usual ground of the existence of “serious practical difficulties”—when has a proposal for reforms been free from such difficulties in the eyes of the orthodox?—he mentioned that “The Government was seriously considering the question of making elastic rules relating to the removal of electoral disqualifications arising out of criminal convictions without any reference to a particular category of offence.” If these words mean that the Government contemplates making rules with a view to the removal of disqualifications in the case of all convicted persons whose alleged offences do not involve moral turpitude, whether they are or are not political, it will be doing precisely what public opinion has been urging it to do. In any other case, and especially if the removal of the disqualifications is to be contingent upon the persons concerned either making an apology for the past or giving an undertaking regarding the future, the Government may as well spare itself the trouble.

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