Lahore, Wednesday, February 23,1921

THE NEW SUBSTITUTE

HAVING proved to their own satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the country the power of the repressive measures, and especially the Defence of India Act, officers of a certain class are now busy providing an object lesson to the country as to the power of the ordinary law. We have already referred to the cases of Mr. Yakub Hassan and others in Madras and of Mr. Mazharni Haq and Babu Rajendra Prasad in Behar. Similar action has been taken in the United Provinces against Mr. Ranga Iyer and Babu Bans Gopal and in our own Province against Sardar Sardul Singh. The circumstances of these cases are different, but the two things common to them are that in these cases, the action of authority amounts to an interference with individual liberty and the freedom of the public, and that in all these cases, action has been taken under one or other section of the Criminal Procedure Code, which has long been in need of a revision. In the first, the sections resorted to are 144, 107 and 114; in the second and the fourth, section 144 has sufficed; in the third, the favoured sections are 144 and 108. Is it wrong to say that the only effect of the acceptance of Mr. Sastri’s resolution has been not to prevent the bureaucracy from resorting to repressive measures, which is what he intended, but to lead them to substitute for the repressive measures of the ordinary law? If these actions are allowed, it will have been conclusively shown that those were right who contended during the debate on the Rowlatt Bill and on similar other occasions that special measures were superfluous, because the ordinary law was sufficient. In the first and the third cases, the action involves interference with the right of public meeting and free speech; in the second, it involves an arbitrary interference with the right of free speech and the free movement of individuals; in the fourth, it amounts to the internment of a person within the limits of a municipality, for which even the reasons are not stated.

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