Member for the College Division of Glasgow, rose in his place, and asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House, for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, the retention by the Government of Bombay in Judicial and Administrative Offices of Magistrates and Officials who have sworn that they corruptly purchased their positions by means of bribes, and whom Judges of the High Court of Judicature of the Presidency have pronounced to be-legally disqualified by their corruption from retaining office; but the pleasure of the House not having been signified,
§ Mr. SPEAKER called on those Members, who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 Members having accordingly risen in their places,
During the 15 or 16 years I have had the honour of a seat in this House I have never moved the adjournment. I make it now because the matter appears to me to be pressing and momentous, and because I think that the facts of the case amount to a grave scandal. Having failed by repeated questions to get any satisfactory 861 assurance from the Government, no other course is open to me than to move the adjournment of the House unless the matter is to be allowed to stand over for another six months. About a year ago charges were made by the Indian Government against Mr. Arthur Crawford, who occupied a high position in the Indian Civil Service, of having received bribes and borrowed money from officials. The charges were brought before a Commission appointed by the Government of Bombay; and that Commission consisted of three gentlemen of high position—the Hon. Arthur Wilson, Judge of the High Court of Judicature of Calcutta; Mr. J. W. Quinton a member of the Board of Revenue; and Mr. E. J. Crosthwaithe, Commissioner of the Central Provinces. These Commissioners went very fully into the charges in an inquiry which lasted between 60 and 70 days. In addition to this investigation charges arising out of the same matter were tried by another Court against Hanmantrao, who acted as a sort of financial agent for Mr. Crawford, and who was alleged to have received bribes on his behalf for preferments and for exercising his influence with Mr. Crawford. In the course of the investigation some 32 officials, most of them mamlutdars, or Magistrates, were examined. The witnesses who paid the bribes gave the same evidence before the two tribunals, and one believed they spoke the truth, while the other thought that in some cases they did not. In order to obtain evidence, the Government gave some promise of indemnity to native officials who gave evidence, but the exact terms of the promise have not been published. It appears from the Blue Book that there was a promise to retain officials in office; but, if so, in many cases that promise has been violated; and the Government have gone on no definite principle, sometimes suspending and sometimes changing officials. I trust that the Under Secretary, for India, when he rises to reply, will confine himself as much as possible to English, because I confess that I do not understand Hindustani, and I doubt very much whether the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy or the hon. Member opposite (Sir E. Lethbridge) will be able to understand the Hindustani of the hon. Gentleman. A mamlutdar, according to the Commissioners 862 who sat upon the Crawford case, is the chief officer entrusted with the local administration of the revenue. He exercises magisterial powers and certain other judicial functions under the Local Government. I will confine myself to the case of two Judges who, before the Crawford Commission, acknowledged that they obtained office corruptly, and I will confine myself to those because the Commission put the cases into a nut-shell. One of these men was named Sindekar, concerning whom the Crawford Commission report that he was on his own showing no victim of extortion, but a willing party to a corrupt bargain. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India says that Sindekar was retained in office by the Government of Bombay, because, taking all the facts into consideration, he ought not to be called corrupt, but a victim to corruption and extortion. That statement is exactly the reverse of what is to be found in the Report of the Commission. What were the functions exercised by Sindekar? Those functions are explained expressly in regard to this individual case in a Minute drawn up by one of the Judges of the High Court of Judicature of Bombay, and sent in to the Governor of the Council of the Presidency, with a protest against the retention of this corrupt mamlutdar in office. Speaking of Sindekar, Mr. Justice Jardine says his evidence shows that in the interval between the confession and the trial the witness actually exercised judicial functions, civil and criminal, and that those functions involved the right of initiating prosecution of subjects of the Queen on mere suspicion, and the right of inflicting whipping and imprisonment. The second case is that of Paranjape, whose name is shown in the Bombay Quarterly Civil List as that of a Magistrate of the second class; and he had power to pass sentences of imprisonment not exceeding sixmonths, and to inflict fines not exceeding 200 rupees, and inflict the punishment of whipping. This man, the Under Secretary tells us, retains office, but has no jurisdiction in civil suits; but in the Minute of the Judges it is stated that he exercises the ordinary functions of a mamlutdar. The Crawford Commission in their Report say they do not believe the man Sindekar, so far as his evidence relating to the case of 863 Mr. Crawford was concerned. They say that "a certain part of his story—that which relates to the alleged visit to Mr. Crawford—must, we think, certainly be rejected," and they say if the history of Sindekar is studied by the light of consistency it must be very difficult to believe him. The evidence he gave, to the effect that he purchased his office by corruption, was believed by the Judges—so far as he said he went deliberately to Hanmantrao, Mr. Crawford's agent, and purchased his office and his freedom from another less desirable district. In the case of Paranjape the Judges are equally explicit as to his not being a man deserving of sympathy. They say with regard to him—According to his own showing he was not in any sense the victim of extortion, hut a willing party to a corrupt bargain, and we can accept no statement of his without substantial corroboration. He is a witness in whom we have no credence.Now, I have dealt with these cases as they form instances of men who have confessed to bribery but are yet continued in their Offices.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed' "That this House do now adjourn."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir JOHN GORST,) Chatham
In the case of Paranjape, he has been deprived of all magisterial powers and of the Civil Court juridiction.
Why did not the hon. Gentleman tell me so when I asked a question only the other day on the subject? His answer was—"Paranjape retains his office, but has no jurisdiction in civil suits."
§ SIR J. GORST
That is what I say. Paranjape appears at the present moment to be retained as an Executive officer—as a Revenue officer—but he is deprived of all his magisterial functions, and forbidden to exercise them.
This comes of the extremely diplomatic nature of the answers which have been given on the sublet. The hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Caine) asked a question as to whether these corrupt mamlutdars had been deprived of their magisterial functions, and the reply was that they had not been so deprived, but that they retained all their civil jurisdiction. When you see all these neat refinements, and 864 are told that a mamlutdar retains his office without being told that a part of his functions have been taken from him, if you make a mistake the fault does not lie with you, but with the reticence of the Under Secretary and the diplomatic character of his answers. I hold in my hand a statement, published in the Bombay Gazette, on 17th June last, and written by a gentleman who supports the Government and their retention of these mamlutdars-in office, and he complains of the way the mamlutdars have been treated by the Government—of the total absence-of principle which has been characteristic of their treatment, and the impossibility of knowing where things are to end. This writer points out how, at one time, the Government withdrew magisterial functions from these mamlutdars, and, at another time, changed their minds and in some cases restored those functions, and how, when this restoration was made, other mamlutdars were deprived of their powers; and how, later on, other deprivations and other restorations were brought about. He points out that the Government have issued an Order in seven or 10 Courts or more to the effect that the mamlutdars should not exercise their functions, but that those functions should be exercised by inferior officers. Yet the mamlutdars, I take it, continue to draw their full pay, and to retain their office. The gravamen of my charge is, that it has been laid down by the Judges of the High Court of Judicature in Bombay—by Mr. Justice Jardine, acting as the representative of the High Court—in the trial of this particular case that a certain Act of Parliament applies to India, and that that Act not only forbids a man purchasing his office by bribery, but prevents him from retaining any judicial office so acquired. What Mr. Justice Jardine has laid down is, that the Act of Parliament, the 49th of George IV., chapter 126, is applicable to India. That Act says that any person who buys his office by bribery shall be disabled in law, to all intents and purposes, to have or enjoy the office or offices, or any part of them, for which he has paid any sum of money, fee, or reward. That is the Act of Parliament which Mr. Justice Jardine, acting as the representative of the High Court of Judicature of Bombay, according to the 865 answer given to my question this afternoon, laid down as the law of India on this subject. This cannot come as a matter of surprise to the Government of India or to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary. Repeated questions have been asked in this House on the subject. At the end of February, and, again, in the beginning of March, I myself asked questions with regard to it. In November last, Mr. Justice Jardine, as representing the High Court of Judicature of Bombay—the Court entrusted with the duty of superintending the administration of justice in the inferior Courts—being the Vacation Judge, had brought under his notice the case of the mamlutdars and officials who had given evidence to the effect that they had purchased their offices corruptly, and he considered it to be his duty to communicate with the Governor in Council. Before doing so, he thought it proper to lay the whole matter before the Judges of the High Court of Judicature of the Presidency. They could not agree as a body that it was their duty to make a remonstrance to the Governor in Council; but they considered the matter so doubtful that they authorized any member of their body who should think fit to send in a memorandum in his own name with an explanation of the circumstances to the Governor in Council; and two Judges of the High Court, conceiving it to be their duty to do so, wrote to remonstrate to the Governor in Council, sending in Minutes on the subject. The third Judge, who did not think the right of remonstrance undoubted, still entirely agreed on the question of policy, and a Minute from him was also submitted to the Governor in Council. On these Minutes, Mr. Justice Jardine laid down this—that the Act I have cited does apply to India, that the Judges who had been confessedly corrupt and who must, according to the circumstances, be either perjurers or corrupt—or, as one might infer from the conflicting view which the different Courts took of their evidence, both corrupt and perjured—should not be retained in their office. Mr. Justice Jardine and the other Judge laid it down that for these mamlutdars to be retained in their offices was in violation of Magna Charta, and contrary to the Coronation Oath; that the Royal prerogative itself could not in 866 this country retain these men in office; and that the attempt of the Governor in Council, under the pretence of exercising an Order in Council, to keep the mamlutdars in office was illegal and unconstitutional. The third Judge—Mr. Justice Scott, I think—though, as I have said, he did not consider that the right to remonstrate with the Governor in Council was sufficiently clear to justify him in signing the remonstrance, yet concurred in the entire impolicy of keeping such men on the Bench. He said he agreed with Mr. Justice Jardine that judicial officers who had confessed to having purchased their office were unfit to perform judicial functions, and ought to be removed. And I do not think there is a man in this House who would stand up and state the contrary. Well, though the pronouncements of these three Judges were as strong as they could be they were regarded as expressions of individual opinion which the Judges had no right to make, and were dismissed by the Governor in Council with the remark that these criticisms were very inconvenient—which I have no doubt they were—and that as the case was before them in their judicial capacity it would have been better if they had withheld their expressions of opinion until it had been disposed of. The case has now come before the Court, and the judgment has been that these men are disqualified from retaining their offices or any portion of their functions, and that they should, consequently, be dismissed. I do not ask the House to accept anything I may say on the subject, because criticisms may occur to persons here which are not justified, but I take the facts from the Judicial Minutes regarding retention in office of these men—and I must complain that in laying the case before Parliament the Government have omitted from the Blue Books any reference to the Judicial Minutes, and have made the Report as one-sided as possible. They give the Report of the Crawford Commission, and the reply of the Government, and the speech of the Attorney General against Mr. Crawford, and the Report of the Chief of Police against Mr. Crawford, and actually the confession of the man Hanmantrao, and yet they omit to give the most important Minutes sent in by these Judges of the High Court of Judicature of Bombay. 867 That, on the evidence before us, is to be greatly deplored. What do the Judges describe as the sort of bribery that was carried on? Take one case, that of a man who, according to an answer given the other day, has been degraded. According to Mr. Justice Jardine, in 1886 this man was made a clerk at 40 rupees a month. In June, 1887, he wished to get himself made a mamlutdar, and at once set to work to obtain the office by bribery. He borrowed 3,000 rupees without giving security from a money-lender, and by means of this became a Magistrate and mamlutdar. His pay had only been 40 rupees a month, but after he became a mamlutdar he drew 112 rupees a month, and had contrived to repay 1,000 rupees of the money he had borrowed. He paid 3,000 rupees for his office, and it is no wonder, when the Judges declare that it is the easiest thing in the world for a man to borrow, without security, money to be used in purchasing some administrative office; and it is clear that no one would bribe to obtain an office, and no money-lender would make unsecured advances, if it were not for the well-understood condition that once he got into power the office-holder would be able to recoup himself easily by the bribes of suitors. Mr. Justice Jardine says there is abundant evidence of the exaction of bribes from suitors on the part of the mamlutdars in India. He says, further, that allegations of the kind were made in the Crawford inquiry. In the defence of the Government it had been said that Mr. Crawford's corruption extended over a wide area, and that extortion was practised upon these officials who were not to be stigmatized as corrupt in the discharge of their judicial functions; but we hear numerous instances of the bribery of the mamlutdars. Here is an instance. It is to be found on page 221 of the Report, and relates to a certain mamlutdar named Chaubal. He had to judge in a dispute between two widows as to a right of succession. He was got at by a gentleman with an unpronounceable name on behalf of one of the parties, but afterwards some friend of the other side went to Hanmantrao and bought a judgment from him, it being supposed that, with his influence with Mr. Crawford, Hanmantrao would be able to obtain a 868 decision for the friend of the man who paid him the money. The Judge, Chaubal, however, refused to accept Hanmantrao's advice as to how he should deliver judgment, and delivered it for the other side; whereupon, according to the statement of Hanmantrao—who appears to have been a thorough rascal—as some anonymous letters had been written by Chaubal hinting that the other side were giving bribes, he had the man appointed mamlutdar to another district and superseded him. More bribery followed, after which an apology was made to the mamlutdar and the judgment came all right. Now, I have specified two particular cases. The allegation of the Indian Government, as I have suggested, is that these men were in many of the cases only the victims of extortion, and that they were sent to unhealthy districts with the view of money being extorted from them. I am not in a position to form a judgment as to this; but when the Government are informed by a Commission of their own choosing that the men were not the victims of extortion, but were, many of them, parties to a corrupt bargain, which they went into with their eyes open, seeing a way of obtaining promotion which, they were not entitled to, and paid money for that promotion, I think it is degrading on the part of the Government to maintain these men in positions where they have to administer justice. I think it is doubly detrimental to the respect of Her Majesty's subjects for law as administered in the Courts of the Empire that they should know that although these men have been stigmatized in the strongest terms by Judges of the High Court, and that it has been laid down that their retention in office is illegal, they are still in the service of the State. I think the Under Secretary has adopted a very proper view in regard to the payment of compensation. But if the Indian Bench is to be preserved in purity, it will not do to send back as County Court Judges a number of men who have been branded as criminals, and who have not only purchased their offices by corruption, but recouped themselves by taking bribes. As long as you keep these men the Government of India casts a slur on the whole judicial body. The Courts will not be considered as Courts of Justice, 869 but as places where judgment can be bought from Judges who have themselves paid money to secure their offices by means of the highest bribes.
§ Sib J. GORST
I cannot help thinking that if the hon. Member desired to bring forward this question as one of urgent public importance, he at least might have given the representative of the India Office in this House half an hour's preliminary notice. It makes it more difficult on the spur of the moment to give an adequate answer to the hon. Member, because I have been engaged during the whole day in a Committee upstairs, and have not been able to pay a visit personally to the India Department. I have been compelled to send over hastily to the department to get a few documents in order to enable me to meet the hon. Member's Motion. If the House should consider my answer not so complete as it ought to be, hon. Members must attribute it, not to a deficiency on the part of the Government case, but simply because an opportunity has not been given to enable me to arrange and produce the documents. I would remind the House, in the first place, that it has no jurisdiction over the Government of Bombay, but only over the Secretary of State and his conduct in this matter. The question raised by the hon. Member is not yet concluded; it is now under the consideration of the Secretary of State; indeed, further action may, and probably will, be taken with respect to it. And I think it would be more conducive to the interests of the Indian Empire if the hon. Member and the House were to wait until the action of the Secretary of State is complete, and then express their judgment upon it. The position from the first has been one of extreme difficulty. In order to lay evidence before the Commission which inquired into the charges brought against Mr. Crawford, the Government of Bombay thought it right to give to all the officers who might be able to give evidence an indemnity on condition that they spoke the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. My own opinion is strongly opposed to such a practice except in extreme cases of necessity, but it is the practice, in India, as in this country, to offer indemnities in order to procure evidence. The indemnity given by the Government of 870 Bombay will be found on page 252 of the Blue Book containing the correspondence relating to the case of Mr. Crawford, and presented at the beginning of the Session. It was to this effect:—Mr. Ommaney is empowered to promise immunity from prosecution to any person giving evidence, and in cases of payments for promotion, or to obtain or avoid transfers, may guarantee immunity from official or departmental punishment or loss, subject to the stipulation that the evidence given is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.Now, I can understand the hon. Gentleman saying that this indemnity went too far with respect to the cases of offices purchased by corruption. I agree that the indemnity provided on this point went too far; but the House must recollect that it was given to the officers of the Bombay Government by their official superiors, whose credit and position it is essential to the Government of India to keep up; and the Secretary of State cannot without throwing the whole Government of Bombay into confusion, repudiate an engagement of this kind. What has been the action of the Secretary of State? It was stated at the beginning of the Session that it was impossible that men who had admitted themselves to be guilty of corruption should be allowed any longer to exercise any judicial office. On February 6th this year a telegram was sent out to the Bombay Government. It said:—Please telegraph early information about alleged retention of office by Bombay native magistrates who have confessed corruption before the Crawford Commission.The answer received was:—The Report of the Commission just received and under consideration. In dealing therewith the incidental question of magistrates' retention or removal will be duly considered.The Secretary of State promptly replied:—I await full information as to the facts before expressing any opinion myself; but I presume the incriminated magistrates are suspended from exercising judicial functions pending consideration of the case.This was before the House of Commons met, and before any pressure had been put on the Secretary of State. On February 8, this answer was received:—Magistrates who have acknowledged having purchased their offices suspended from 871 exercising judicial functions during consideration of Report.Now I appeal to the House in these circumstances to say whether it was possible for the Secretary of State to have acted more justly, more energetically, and with more propriety than he has done in this matter. It is impossible for the Secretary of State to try in Downing Street the case of every individual mamlutdar. His duty is to lay down the principles on which the Government of Bombay is to act, and I venture to say that neither the Secretary of State nor the House is competent to enter into the details of the question and discriminate between one mamlutdar and another, or to declare how far the general principles laid down by Her Majesty's Government in this country are to be applied to any individual case. After a case has been decided, then it is possible to inquire into it and award either blame or praise to the Government of Bombay; but the House cannot ask the Secretary of State to pronounce at present a positive opinion on any individual mamlutdar. The hon. Member spoke as if these mamlutdars are still exercising judicial functions; but the information which the hon. Member has received is precisely contrary to that which has been received by the Government. What are these men? A mamlutdar is not a County Court Judge; he is not essentially a judicial officer. But he is a revenue officer with something like 13 or 14 clerks under him. These men are the best educated natives in their district; and they have generally been required to qualify themselves for the exercise of magisterial functions. They perform the functions of a Magistrate not as their principal duty but as an important auxiliary to their other duties.
§ SIR J. GORST
I will come to that point later on; These men were suspended, so far as their judicial functions were concerned, by the Secretary of State the moment he became cognizant of the facts of the case; and in a great number of cases the suspension was made absolute, and they were deprived of their functions. I am not prepared to discuss the case of Sindekar, who was 872 restored. Sindekar's name was mentioned in the Report of the Crawford Commission, and in the Report of Mr. Justice Jardine; but his case has been considered by the Bombay Government, who have come to the conclusion that, taking all the facts into consideration, Sindekar ought not to be called corrupt, but that he was the victim of oppression and extortion; and that he was as fit for the exercise of the powers intrusted to him as he was before the money was extorted from him. I do not know whether, after further investigation, that judgment of the Bombay Government will prove to be right or wrong; but surely the House will not proceed to adjudicate upon the matter without having the materials upon which to arrive at a conclusion. Those materials, I repeat, are not at present in this country. With regard to Paranjape, he has been deprived of all Magisterial powers and of the Civil Court jurisdiction. The hon. Member for the College Division has made himself extremely merry because I have stated that the jurisdiction was now being exercised by kárkuns, and the hon. Member asked me to speak English. Now, the word kAárkun is as intelligible a word to an Englishman as mamlutdar is. It is difficult to find an English word to express the meaning. The hon. Member has tried to translate kárkun by calling the official a head clerk. The office of clerk is sometimes an office of great dignity, as it is in this House; but the hon. Member spoke of it as if the Government had conferred judicial functions upon a very inferior class. These officials are fully qualified to exercise judicial functions, and often, in the regular course of the administration, are called on to exercise them. Then the question has been put—ought these mamlutdars to be retained in office at all? That is a matter which is receiving the anxious consideration of the Secretary of State. It has been only recently that the point as to whether, under the Statute of George III., these officers are incapable of holding their office if they have been guilty of corruption has been pressed on the attention of the Secretary of State. The' question as to whether the statute applied to these offices in India is engaging the most serious attention of the Secretary of State; and 873 I hope the House will not intervene before my noble Friend has at least had time to receive information from India and to fully consider it. I do not know that the hon. Member for the College Division can expect to gain anything by his Motion except to call the attention of the Secretary of State to a case which has engaged his most anxious and most careful attention during the last 12 months. I do not know that there has ever been a question which has caused more trouble and anxiety to my noble Friend than this, and I think the House would do well to leave the matter in his hands. But what is the matter of urgent public importance on which the hon. Member has moved the adjournment?
§ SIR J. GORST
The hon. Member speaks ofThe retention by the Government of Bombay in judicial and adminiatrative offices of magistrates and officials, who have sworn that they corruptly purchased their positions by means of bribes…I do not admit that the Government of Bombay have retained in any office any functionaries who have proved any such offences against themselves, and should it be proved that they are so retained for the moment, it is because the Secretary of State has not had the matter brought before him with that fulness which would enable him to give the consideration necessary in determining so important a matter. The hon. Member next speaks of these officers as persons whomThe Judges of the High Court of Jurisdicture of the Presidency have pronounced to be legally disqualified by their corruption from retaining office.That is not a correct statement. The statement has been made by one Judge only, Mr. Justice Jardine. It was not a judgment; it was what the lawyers call an obiter dictum given by him, and no doubt—as any opinion coming from him—of great value. The question of where the statute does refer to the dominion officers is a matter which requires a good deal of consideration perhaps more than the hon. Member for Glasgow proposes to give to it; and even if that statute does refer to the officers of India it has again 874 to be proved that these officers are disqualified from holding office. I am extremely sorry that this matter has been brought forward without notice. If I had received even half an hour's notice, I would have looked up some documents bearing on this question; and no doubt I would have been able to give the House a fuller and clearer account, and would have been able, instead of speaking from my own recollection, to have verified my statements by exact references to the Papers. I can assure the House that if this matter is left in the hands of the Secretary of State he will take very good care that full justice is done.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I do not think the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India is justified in complaining of the Motion for the Adjournment of the House coming upon him without notice, because, from the number of questions put to him on the subject, he must have anticipated some such course, unless he gave to the House the information which he has not given. If the whole of the documents are not in the possession of the Government—and they ought to be—some one has seriously neglected his duty towards the Secretary of State for India. I cannot wonder at my hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) believing that these facts were accessible to the Secretary of State, because the judges in India have taken express pains to communicate them, not only to the Government of India, but to the world, so that there should be no possibility of doubt about the matter. I trust that the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Cameron) will be content with the discussion raised; but I think the House is indebted to him for having raised the question. I want, however, to point to one or two strange deficiencies in the reply of the hon. Gentleman. It was urged by the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Cameron) that the conduct of the Government has been a varying conduct—that they have suspended and partly suspended officials. The hon. Gentleman well knows that the letter in the Bombay Gazette was written by a native Judge holding a high position in the Bombay Presidency; I believe it is a fairly open secret in official circles. It is true that the Head of the Police was authorized to offer an indemnity; but I was astounded to hear the Under Secretary for India say that 875 similar indemnities were often given in this country.
§ SIR J. GORST
I never said similar. I said it was not uncommon in this country to offer indemnities.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
An indemnity of what character? An indemnity against the penal consequences which will follow the indictment for the offence?
§ SIR J. GORST
That is exactly what I said; and as to the particular indemnity given by the Governor of Bombay, I expressed strong disapprobation of it.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
But the hon. Gentleman did not go on to say that the indemnity given was entirely different from any indemnity ever known to be given in any court of this country. There is no comparison at all between the two kinds of indemnity. No doubt the hon. Gentlemen always uses able and careful language, but language which does not always convey the facts, and his able and careful language did not convey to my uneducated mind that there is any comparison between the indemnity given in India and the indemnity which is given here. It is perfectly true that the Blue Book states that had indemnities not been given no word of direct evidence would have been elicited. But why? The Blue Book shows that the corruption is sufficiently known to make it desirable that it should be ventilated in this House whenever possible. The very strong statement has been made that corruption extends over a wide area of the Central and Southern Divisions, and that more than two-thirds of the different officers and Magistrates were affected by it. "We have Sir Raymond West's own Minute upon it:—Such open secrets' are known to hare existed in India before, and sometimes with calamitous consequences. On the present occasion a dumb hopelessness seems to hare pervaded the official class.Only a few days ago I put a question to the Under Secretary for India with reference to a remission of sentence approved by the Secretary of State for India of an officer who had been publicly censured by the Government of India in an official dispatch. Can you wonder that it is exceedingly difficult to deal with these unfortunate natives, when they find that English officers who are powerful are 876 protected, and in a little time are promoted again? It would be unbecoming in me to cast the slightest doubt on the knowledge of the Under Secretary and Secretary of State for India, but I will read to the House a Minute which must have been kept back from the India Office by the Government of India indirect wrong to the Secretary of State, who ought to have been informed. I will read the quotation given by Mr. Justice Jardine as a material portion of the evidence relating to Sindekar. The Sin-dekar is asked—Since the Hanmantrao Inquiry have you returned to your duty? I did so before the case was disposed of.—You are still Mamlutdar of Chanedore, and receive your pay as such? Yes.—Since you have admitted that you had a bribe for getting your transfer cancelled yon still continued in the Government service f Yes.The very Magisterial duties which it was suggested had not been carried, out by others, the Sindekar, I presume, having since been restored. But what is the very next paragraph—Another witness of higher position"—higher even than the Sindekar—"deposed on 29th October that other magistrates in similar predicament, who have either made public confession of corruption, or are charged with corrupt crimes by the Government in the proceeding against Mr. Crawford, have resumed their judicial functions.Have those words any meaning? Were these things, which were sworn, reported by the judges to the Government of India? Have these facts been withheld from the Secretary of State, or what does it mean? At any rate, the discussion does good, as showing that we have no means of challenging the Secretary of State for India, and that the only Parliamentary means we had on the Budget Statement we have been deprived of. I quite accept the plea of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India that the Government were in utter ignorance of the sworn depositions; but that being so, it would appear that they are governing India in ignorance. We are told that we ought not to rely on newspaper reports or telegrams in the Times. I do not blame the Government for depreciating the value of the telegrams in the Times, because I can understand that there are many reasons for that depreciation; but we are not relying on those tele- 877 grams; we are relying on the Judgments and Minutes of the High Court of India, to which some attention ought to be paid. If the Statute has any meaning at all—and there is no one who has a greater aptitude for interpreting this Statute than the Under Secretary for India—it re-enacts in express terms the Statute of Edward IV., which declares that any person who shall have paid any fee, or any sum of money, or any reward, is to be adjudged a person disabled in law from holding any appointment. There is the Statute, and we have also the evidence. We are not influenced by the telegrams in the Times, but by evidence formally minuted by one of the Judges of the High Court, with the approval of his colleagues in many material respects, and in regard to which I do not think the Under Secretary has been quite fair in the statement he has made to the House. I quite agree that there is something to be said on his behalf on the ground that in regard to money matters he and the Secretary for India were kept ill-informed by the Governors of the different Presidencies of India. We have seen that answers given to questions put at one time have been corrected at another, and that often the one statement was the very opposite of the other; but here we have a case in which we have sworn testimony, the evidence being uncontradicted and undisputed, and if it be said that this is not material, then I say we want a new dictionary to tell us what is the meaning of the word "material." Some of the men who have been compelled to lend money to the officials, and to give evidence of that by the inducements held out by the Chief of Police, have been dismissed, and some have been degraded and placed in inferior positions; but it is the poorest who have suffered, while the richest have escaped. I thank the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow for having brought this matter forward, although I trust he will not divide the House upon it, as that would involve our voting in the exact terms of the Motion. Nevertheless, these scandals require ventilation; and when they are ventilated, I hope the Secretary of State will not again say that he is ignorant of Minutes which have been published in all parts of the world, but which have been kept from him by those 878 whose duty it was to have informed him of the facts.
§ * MR. BAUMANN (Peckham)
As I have had upon the Paper a Motion censuring the conduct of Lord Reay's Government in this matter, I desire now to say a few words on the subject. It has been asked what has the hon. Member for Glasgow gained by bringing on the question now? The answer is that he has gained this—he has ventilated one of the grossest scandals that have occurred in the administration of India in modern times. There are two-branches of this subject. There is the-conduct of the mamlutdars, which I understand is not before the House, and with regard to which we have not the-proper materials for information, as the Minutes of Evidence are not published; and the other part of the subject has relation to the conduct of the Government of Bombay in regard to the prosecution of Mr. Arthur Crawford, as to which we have ample materials for judgment in the Report of the Commission which has been laid on the Table. A severer and a more pronounced condemnation of an Indian Government——
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member, as it seems to me, is travelling beyond the subject upon which the Motion for Adjournment has been moved.
§ * MR. BAUMANN
I think the Report in the Blue Book refers to the mamlutdars having been suspended; but if I am not in order in referring to that matter, I will not touch upon it further. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary has stated that the promise of indemnity having been given by the Bombay Government, the Secretary of State could not repudiate that engagement; but I fail to see why the-Secretary of State should not have overridden the decision of the Bombay-Government in the matter. It is the business of the Secretary of State to override the decisions of any of the Indian Governments when he believes them to be improper. I submit that the telegrams which came from India regarding the suspension of the mamlutdars in regard to the exercise of their judicial functions were of a most misleading character, because the majority of hon. Members of this House are not aware that the chief duties of those officials are not judicial, but duties 879 connected with the Revenue, duties which, as the Under Secretary has stated, form the major part of their functions. We consequently have before us the fact that Magistrates who have confessed corrupt action are allowed to remain in the discharge of the most important part of their duties—namely, those connected with the Revenue, while they are suspended from the minor and less important of their functions—namely, their judicial functions. If they are corrupt—and they have confessed that they are—they are absolutely incompetent and unfit for the discharge of their duties as taxing officers. We are told that the matter is receiving the anxious consideration of the Secretary of State, but that, the India Office has not come to a decision on the matter because of facts which have only recently been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State. Why, Sir, this matter was brought under the notice of the India Office as long ago as last February or March; and if the India Office cannot make up its mind in four or five months, this seems to me a most remarkable confession. But the Bombay Government did a great deal worse than promise immunity to corrupt Magistrates; they employed the instruments of corruption to get up evidence against Mr. Crawford, and punished by suspension the mamlutdars who refused to give evidence against that individual. As you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that that part of the case is not before the House and that it would be out of order to go into it, I can only say that I regret very much the way in which this branch of a very important matter has to be dealt with, and I beg to state that I shall take any opportunity which the forms of the House will permit on the Indian Budget or any other occasion of calling further attention to the matter.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I can well understand the natural desire of hon. Gentlemen who are interested in a question of so much magnitude, which has been before the public for so long a period, to have it discussed in this House; but I cannot help feeling that the matter ought not to have been brought forward on such inadequate notice, which does not allow Members who feel great interest in the subject to refresh their memories as they would otherwise have done. There is only 880 one London newspaper which has a permanent correspondent in India, and he his continually sending telegrams which reflect on the conduct of the Bombay Government; and although the statements he makes often admit of explanation, the explanations do not find their way into the Press of England, so that hon. Members who are guided by these telegrams should suspend their judgment. I sympathize very much with what has been said by the hon. Member for Northampton as to the difficulty of bringing forward Indian subjects in this House. It is difficult with the limited information in the possession of Members to either approve or disapprove the action of the Indian Government; indeed the House should be very slow to take any such action. One material fact has scarcely yet been adverted to—namely, that it was absolutely necessary to give some indemnity. If an indemnity had not been given, it would have been impossible to elicit the facts of the case; and in the view of the Bombay Government it was of the very highest importance to discover whether it was true that a widespread system of corruption really existed in the southern part of the Presidency; and nothing but the offer of a liberal indemnity would in their view have been sufficient to secure the requisite evidence. I need hardly say that if the indemnity was given it was absolutely necessary that it should be adhered to. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last asked why should not the Secretary of State override the indemnity; but if that were done what hope could the Government have in any future case of obtaining evidence? Moreover, such a course would be a very bad example of the honour and faith of the Government, especially as it would be a case of breaking an indemnity given not to a European, but to a native. Another material fact is that the practice of purchasing offices is proved to have been all but universal; and the evidence showed that these particular mamlutdars were in no respect worse than others, and that the practice has prevailed widely in certain parts of the Presidency. It is important, therefore, not to deal with exceptional harshness with those who have been found out to a great extent through their own can dour. I do not in any way palliate their offence; but it should be remembered in fairness 881 that the corruption which has been proved against them was not that of selling justice and giving a decision in consideration of a bribe, but it was that inferior and not so black a kind of corruption which consists of obtaining an office by giving a consideration for it. There have been countries in which this practice has largely prevailed, and it certainly is looked upon as not so black an offence as selling justice. It is most unfortunate that the gift of office in India should be influenced by a pecuniary consideration; but that is a smaller offence in the eyes of the people of India, and also in our eyes, than the sale of justice for a pecuniary consideration. The hon. Member for Glasgow said that the natives could not regard the Courts of those mamlutdars as Courts of Justice at all; but that is not the way in which they look at the matter. If certain mamlutdars are known to have obtained their offices through the influence of other natives, or to have given some consideration for them, the people of India do not think any the worse of those particular Magistrates than they do of others. I have mentioned these matters in order to show the difficulties of the position in which the Bombay Government were placed. The hon. Member for Glasgow has dwelt strongly on Mr. Justice Jardine's opinion; but the obiter dicta of one Judge are not to be treated as if they were equivalent to the solemn determination of a full Court in a great case argued before them. I was myself in Bombay at the time when the matter was freely canvassed in conversation, and many members of the legal profession thought that Mr. Justice Jardine was wrong. Without at all disparaging that Judge, it is fair to say that what fell from him was not of the absolutely conclusive weight which the hon. Member for Glasgow seems to suppose. Indeed, I am not sure that there were not as many who held that the Judge was wrong as there were who thought he was right. I am precluded by your ruling, Sir, from referring to Mr. Crawford's case; but had it been in order I should have been prepared to defend the conduct of Lord Reay, who, I think, is entitled for his action to the thanks of this House and of the Government of India. The conduct of the Government of Bombay in regard to these mamlutdars has been the con- 882 duct of men who, above all things, are anxious to arrive at the truth. The ventilation of the matter is due to the conduct of the Government of Bombay, who in the interests of purity of administration in India determined to go to the bottom of the whole affair and to elicit the fullest revelation of the state of facts. In that respect I believe they have done well; and whether or not the House, when it is more fully informed of all the facts, will approve of all the administrative action which the Government of Bombay and the Secretary of State have taken, I think that most of us who know Lord Reay, the Governor of Bombay, and his upright character, will feel that that noble Lord's uprightness and courage could not have been shown in a clearer light or in a way that was more entitled to our confidence and respect 4 than they had been in that matter.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)
There is no doubt that this is a very painful, delicate, and difficult matter. But when hon. Members show such a state of extreme holy horror at the purchase of offices in India, they seem altogether to forget that within historical times such things have occurred even in this country; and that even to this day if not political, at any rate ecclesiastical offices are bought and sold. I do not think this House is a very competent tribunal for dealing with this matter, more especially when, as in the present instance, we are called upon suddenly to deal with it without sufficient materials. I regret that a comparatively small matter has been allowed to overshadow the great question of the conduct of a high administrative officer in Bombay, which conduct at least made possible the corruption the House is discussing. It does seem extraordinary we should hear so much about the minor part of the case and so little about the major part. I am sorry that the Under Secretary of State for India has thrown over Lord Reay and the Government of Bombay. Whether that Government have made mistakes or not, they deserve the greatest credit for attacking an enormous evil which was rampant in the country; and it required very great courage to tackle the man who was accused of the conduct which gave rise to the whole scandal, and who was very 883 popular in the European community of Bombay; and allusion has already been made to the telegrams appearing in a notorious journal of this country, which described him as without fault or reproach. Lord Reay and his Government have faced the Times' telegrams and very great abuse with great courage in dealing with the scandal which this official created. I am not prepared to go into details, because I do not think the House would understand them; but I may confirm the statement of the Under Secretary of State for India, that a mamlutdar is primarily a revenue officer and not a judicial officer. In conclusion, I may say I do not think that the Government of Bombay are open to the excessive blame cast upon them, nor are they open to the reproach of keeping corrupt Judges in office.
§ SIR W. PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
I wish to express entire dissent from the remarks which have fallen from the hon. Member for Aberdeen. If there is one thing which points to the supremacy and better direction of judicial affairs in British hands it is purity of administration. When cases have been found of men concerned in the administration of justice admitting that they have purchased their offices, it is to be deplored that on any side of the House there should exist a tendency to screen such men.
§ MR. BRYCE
The hon. Member will, perhaps, allow me to explain that I expressly stated that I not only did not wish to screen the men, but considered their conduct very culpable. I merely pointed to the distinction which every Indian draws between the degrees of corruption involved in giving corrupt decisions for bribes and in purchasing judicial offices.
§ SIR W. PLOWDEN
I am not prepared now to enter into any such distinctions. It appears to me that the hon. Gentleman is not prepared to see the men who have: purchased their offices removed.
§ SIR W. PLOWDEN
That is the view of the Under Secretary at any rate, who has declared that the immunity granted by the Bombay Government must be maintained. But why not go further, and while leaving the protec- 884 tion of the immunity, remove the offenders from the possibility of further mischief. Their salaries might be continued though they are removed from office. As revenue officers, these men have to exercise important judicial functions; and I hope that the Debate-will have the effect of impressing on the-Bombay Government and the Secretary of State for India the necessity of removing the men from their appointments.
My object has merely been to call attention to the matter, which I quite admit would be better discussed after notice. I beg now to ask permission to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.