“AL WAHID CASE”
Full Text Of Judgment
s already reported on Thursday, sentence was on that day passed on Abdul Rahman, editor of the Al Wahid for the publication of seditious articles. Following is the full text of the judgment delivered by Mr. H. S. V. Acott, I. C. S., 1st Class Magistrate:-
In the court of the First class Magistrate, Karachi. King Emperor vs. Abdul Rahman,
The accused is charged with three offences under section 124-A I.P.C. committed by means of articles published in the Al Wahid of which he is the printer and publisher, two of which appeared in the issue of the 16th October and the third in that of the 2nd November 1920. Sanction was accorded by Government to his prosecution under sections 124-A and 153-A but the Court after hearing the evidence agreed with the learned Public Prosecutor that section 124-A was sufficient to meet the case.
The points for consideration are the same in respect of each head of the charge viz:-
1) Did the accused publish the articles complained of?
2) Did he there by produced or attempt to produce hatred or contempt?
3) If so, was this hatred or contempt directed against the Government established by law in British India?
My decision on each of these points is in the affirmative with respect to each head of the charge.
The first and third points require no discussion as the accused admits that he published the articles and Government is specifically referred to in each of them in such a way as to leave no doubt as to what Government is referred to. As these two points were indisputable the accused has naturally offered no evidence upon the second, which can only by the subject of argument. He has however put in a long written statement (Ex. No. 49) the greater part of which is irrelevant being merely an exposition of the doctrine of “non-violent Non-co-operation.” This was obviously intended to be recited in court for the glorification of the accused and the edification of his friends assembled there, rather them as a statement in defence. He appears from it how ever to base his pea of “Not-guilty” on the alleged fact that nothing was further from his mind than the idea of promoting sedition and at one point expressly says “I am innocent in intent and action”. The second point therefore requires consideration. The first article complained of (In ex. No.2 Translation ex.No.5) is a kind of notification in type of various sizes and surrounded by an ornamental border printed on the front page of the issue of the Al Wahid for the 16th October. The translation is as follows:-
“Hindu and Musulaman Brethren. Do vow non-co-operation with the enemies of Islam, the tyrannous rulers of India the enslavers of Mother India. Do not attend Government darbars and Councils and don’t give your votes to your traitorous brothers and don’t go enlisted as soldiers to Baghdad to fight your Arab Brethren.” This is an appeal. Its full translation is the following:-“Non-co-operate with the opponents of the Islam, with the autocratic rulers of India, with Bureaucracy that keeps Mother Indea in bondage. Do not go to the councils and sarcari darbars.Do not vote for your brothers who are faithless in being candidates for the councils. Do not go to Bagdad as recruits in the army to fight your Arab brethren. Even if this translation is more accurate than the other it is difficult to see how an appeal to Indians to desert a Government which through its Civil Services oppresses their country and which is of such a nature that to become a member of the Councils on which it depends is to be unfaithful to country and religion, can be expected to do anything else than produce hatred or contempt for that Government. Nor do I think that the accused can be taken seriously in stating that he did not intend the words to have this effect, if that is what he means by his general statement referred to above.
The second article (In Ex.No.2 Translation Ex. No.6) was published in the same issue. Its title is “Why Government schools should be boycotted?” and beneath the title is a note in parenthesis “From the point of view of the student class.” It begins with a reference to a previous article giving arguments from the parents point of view and proceeds with an exhortation to students in the course of which it states that they are pre-eminently endowed with “national self-respect, sense of law and justice and sympathy with comrades and various other qualities and goes on to say that the object of the student is the search after truth. It then goes off some what at a tangent and urges them because of their possession of the three qualities referred to above to renounce Government schools and colleges and thereby raise the status of the nation, giving the following reasons (I quote the translation):- “the respect Indians command at the hand of Government is not unknown to you. Indian life clams as much value in the estimation of our while rulers as animal life does. No thought is bestowed on Indian life and property. It matters nothing if whites kill an Indian, but murder of worthless white calls for the cry of horror from the whole white world.” It laments the lot of their Eastern nations in their relations with the west and gives a list of actions attributed to officers under martial law etc. by the Indian press, prefacing the list with the question “Won’t you boycott Government and aided schools and colleges even after the following shameful occurrences?”
In the written statement this article is passed over solely with the following remark “This is an appeal to patriotic student to boycott Government-aided schools in the interests of their country.”
It is not in evidence what the parents point of view was but an appeal which begins by tickling the vanity of the youths to whom it is addressed by suggesting their general superiority and particular capacity for forming opinions on matters of ethics and politics, and having thus prepared the ground proceeds to tell them not to accept the education offered by Government on the ground that the race which originated that Government holds them as animals is obviously calculated to produce hatred and contempt for that Government and feelings which might well result in that violence which the accused states he so much deprecates. The exhortation ends “Now it you are possessed of the three attributes and have minds clear of guilt and artfulness there can be no reason why your sense of shame should not burst into a storm and drive you under the non-co-operation standard of Mahatma Gandhi to join hands and remove grievances of Hindustan.”
The third article, published in the issue of the 2ndNovember (Ex. No. 3 Translation Ex. No 7) is entitled “The indispensability of Non-co-operation.” It begins as follows:-“Non-co-operation with Government is the need of the moment to proclaim our loss of confidence in the iniquitous Government and our determination for aqua ring liberty and our will for independence. Let there be no support on the part of the public for the Indians false to their motherland and religion who would go into Government’s unreal Councils. These fellows are bent upon going to work hand in hand with Government which we look upon as steeped in sin in as much as its hands are still dyed red with gore and filth.” It goes on to abuse Mr. Lloyd George for perfidy and ends up with an exhortation to Indians not to stand for the Councils and says that “if the muddleheaded blockheads of candidates do not yet resist from standing,” the electorate ought to proclaim them as unpatriotic and unrepresentative. I do not think that any ordinary mind could conceive of the opening passage as intended to produce anything except hatred, and Government which is such that candidates for its councils are to be stigmatized as in the last passage quoted is surely intended to be treated with contempt. The article is passed over by the accused with the remark that it is a Sindhi wandering of the reasons of the congress and the Muslim league for accepting non-co-operation. The intention of the above articles is so clear from the meaning of the language used that I do not find it necessary to enter in detail into all the other articles which the prosecution has produced to prove it. There are some fifteen of these, and many of them are in themselves of a nature to warrant prosecution. I therefore quote two as instances of perverse ingenuity, which prove indisputably that the accused is not above using any lie as a stick to beat Government with.
On the 23rd August he published an article (Ex. No. 14 Translation Ex. No.15) on education in India. In this it is stated that the aricient system of education being suited to the requirements of the country European education was deliberately introduced because it was calculated to prevent Musalmans from being free and independent and to make them “sink under the heavy load of the bridge of slavery.” It was then found that this education did not reach the inhabitants of rural areas and to get at them Mulla schools were started with the result that “Musssalman children in general who were until then given religious education in Arabic and Persian were kept out of it.” It goes on to state how owing to the efforts of “far-seeking men” who “realized with what object the snare of Mulla schools was laid.” Various Mullas were induced to give up their grants but that the danger is not wholly averted. The accused’s defiance of this is that there is nothing in it which has not been said over and over again by the Indian nationalist press in other parts of Indian.
The other article is perhaps still more illustrative (Ex. No. 16. Translation Ex. No.17). It is entitled “Co-operative Societies and interest.” It states that Government has started these societies with the object of taking interest from poor Musalmans to give it to the rich. Musalman officials and Mussalman non-official helpers alone are selected for this work and the reason is that “for dishonoring and disrespecting Islam and the Islamic world it was intended that Musalmans should destroy their religion with their own hands,” which is the cherished object of Europe nowadays.” It goes on to warn Musalmans that by having anything to do with these societies they incur the anger of heaven.
Comment is needless. The only remark made by the accused is that it is a letter from a correspondent.
The above two articles do not deal with matters of opinion on politics nor with alleged occurrences in distant places about the truth of which there could be any doubt. They are concerned with institutions about which the inhabitants of the smallest villages are completely informed and the lies contained in them must be so obvious to all that their publication proves that the accused has so lost all sense of proportion that he is determined to assail Government at all costs and does not know when he is making himself merely ridiculous.
The evidence of the head-clerk to the Collector and District Magistrate (No.42) and the exhibits produced by him (Nos. 43, 44, 45,) show the determination of the accused to persist in the course he has laid down for himself and the extraordinary patience with which his behavior has been endured by the representatives of the Government he abused. He filed his declaration in connection with the paper on the 2nd July, but had been mentioned as editor of it in the issues of the 4th, 6th, 7th, May. On the 26th July security had to be demanded.
He persisted with articles such as are exhibited on the record of the case in spite of personal warnings given by the District Magistrate in August, September and October. During the early part of the period as the exhibits show he was devoting himself to lashing out wildly in any direction which occurred to him, but towards the end the fact that the elections to the Councils under the new Reforms Scheme were to take place in November gave him an opportunity to pour out constant streams of ridiculous abuse, in his endeavors to frustrate the ends of Government, which was too good to be misled. In spite of all this sanction was not given to his prosecution till December.
His written statement in Court (Ex. No. 49)is in fact a culmination to the proof of his persistent intention in the articles complained of. It finishes with a violent declamation against the “Sind Bureaucracy” and complains that some of the articles produced in evidence of his intention were not written by him but were extracts from other papers and letters from correspondents. It is how ever as printer and publisher that he is being prosecuted. Another subject of his adverse comment is the fact that two of the articles were published subsequently to the 2nd November, the date of publication of the last article for which he was prosecuted. This objection had been raised verbally in a slightly different form in Court, when he stated that the two articles were published after permission to prosecute him was applied for. It was then pointed out to him that it was not in evidence when permission to prosecute him was applied for, and that the articles in question were at least published long before the sanction to prosecute was granted. The grounds or motive of the objection in either form are not clear as for the purpose of proving the intention a relevant article of any date could be produced; and the conclusions based on the fact of the production, is, like most of those in the articles themselves utterly illogical. His verbal complaint in Court that some of the copies given to him were illegible is, if based on fact, justifiable and the fact regrettable. He was, however, immediately presented with other copies before the charge was framed and did not ask the court to allow him to make any further representation. The alleged illegibility of the copies was not likely to hamper him even in any way in his defence as they were copies of translations of articles the originals of which were obtained by him from his own office; nor in fact does it appear to have done so.
I therefore hold that if the meaning of the articles complained of could leave any doubt as to the intention of the accused it is completely dispelled by the other evidence produced and I find him guilty of the three offences under sections 124-A I.P.C specified in the charge.
The question of his sentence is a more difficult one. He aged 22 and the whole of the evidence and his own behavior show that he has no mental balance, or discretion.
He has been locally a conspicuous figure in the limelight of a disturbing stage for a period the beginning of which must almost coincide with his leaving college and the adulation of his more astute and reticent associates has obviously upset whit judgment he may have had. The offence of which he has been found guilty is an extremely serious one and is punishable with transportation for life. That he has done his best to bring Government into hatred and contempt, and that he has succeeded among such of his readers as are incapable of thinking for themselves, there can be no doubt; but I think that taking into consideration his youth, inexperience, and general circumstances and the fact that the magnitude of his attempt (though the attempt is a offence in itself must have far exceeded that of his achievement among thinking men a comparatively light sentence will be sufficient to punish him for his offences and it is to be hoped, deter him from committing others in future.
I therefore order him to undergo twelve months rigorous imprisonment for each offence, the sentences to run concurrently.
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