§ SIR CHARLES WINGFIELD
, in rising to bring the case of the ex-Nawab of Tonk under the notice of the House, and to move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to refer the case of the Ex-Nawab of Tonk for consideration by the 963 Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, under the provisions of the 3rd and 4th Will. 4, c. 41, s. 4, commonly called the Privy Council Act,said, he hoped no remark he might have to make would be understood to cast reflection on the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), for whom he entertained the highest respect, and especially respected in his capacity as Secretary of State for India; and he also felt it to be a great relief to know that, in the observations which he was about to make, he need not call in question in the slightest degree the conduct of the lamented Nobleman who had so recently fallen a victim in India by the hands of an assassin. Tonk, like many other Indian States, was a feudatory of the British Empire in India, but it was so far independent that the inhabitants were not amenable to British law or authority, but lived under the sway of their native Princes, though the latter were responsible to the British Government for the proper administration of their territories. The Indian Government was therefore bound to take cognizance of this case. On the part of the ex-Nawab he did not complain of that, but of the manner in which the inquiry was conducted, which disregarded the first principles of justice, and was a ground for a reconsideration of the case. The collision between the Tonk and Lawa people which led to the loss of life that took place had been variously described, the story upon the Lawa side being that they had been invited to come to the Minister's house, and had been set upon and slain; while upon the other side it was stated that they had gone there on their own account, had behaved in a most insulting manner, that their deaths occurred in the affray which ensued, and that the Nawab, who was not present, was not in the slightest degree accountable for what had occurred. It took place on the 1st of August, 1867, and on the 8th Captain Roberts, a political agent, went to Tonk. He says he made no judicial investigation, but gives his opinion that there had been treachery on the Tonk side At first he did not think that the Nawab was cognizant of what had been done, but he had afterwards come to the conclusion that the act could not have been committed without his knowledge. As Captain Roberts had, however, merely based his opinion on conversations, the 964 House would probably attach no great weight to his report. On the 14th of August following, Captain Bruce, another political agent, arrived on the spot to make an investigation, and he reported on the 26th to his superior, Colonel Eden. Both those officers agreed in thinking that there was no judicial evidence against the Nawab, although they were of opinion that the Lawa people had been entrapped and murdered, and that the Nawab was privy to the design. But while Captain Bruce was of opinion that it was not his intention to kill them, but simply to secure their persons, Colonel Eden thought the intention was to take their lives. The Government of India, concurring in the view taken by Colonel Eden, sent home a despatch to the Secretary of State, and by him the sentence of deposition passed on the Nawab was confirmed. The only witnesses of what had occurred were the parties to the conflict themselves, and it was obvious that it was of great importance for the purpose of eliciting the truth in the matter—for the statements were conflicting—that the interior of the building should be examined with the view of seeing whether it had any marks of blood or conflict. No such step had, however, been taken. Captain Bruce did not visit the interior of the building. He only described the appearance of the inner and outer enclosures, where he could discern no such marks, and the crucial test was not, therefore, applied. But, eight months after the Nawab had been deposed, Captain Blair, happening incidentally to visit Tonk, was invited by the Council of Regency to inspect the interior, and was shown marks of blood and bullet perforations in the walls of the apartments. But if all traces of blood were removed in the one case, why were they not also removed in the other? His experience of the lengths to which native artifice and duplicity would go, coupled with the fact that this visit was paid when the enemies of the Nawab were in power, led him to believe that these marks were fabricated in order to impose upon Captain Blair. The Nawab never received intimation that if the occurrence should turn out to be murder, he would be held responsible for the consequences, or warning that he should stand on his defence. Therefore, relying on his innocence, if innocent; or if guilty, on his 965 right as an independent Prince to coerce a refractory vassal, for he (Sir Charles Wingfield) was careful, as he had said before, not to pronounce an opinion on this point, the Nawab contented himself with sending a letter to the Viceroy, giving his account of the affair. Moreover, it was not pretended by anyone that the Nawab was present at the occurrence. Assuming then, as did Colonel Eden and Captain Bruce, that there had been treachery and murder, still the evidence of the Nawab's guilt was founded solely on the presumption in the minds of those officers that the act could not have been committed without his sanction. Therefore, the first rules of justice required that he should be furnished with the reports made by Captain Bruce and Colonel Eden, which constituted the sole evidence against him; but it was not until one year after the Nawab had been deposed, that he was able to obtain copies of these reports. It might be said that his agent was present at the examination of the witnesses, and was allowed to cross-examine them. But Captain Bruce himself said that the evidence of the native doctor and his assistant was taken privately, and that information against the Nawab was in like manner secretly obtained from his relations and other gentlemen. Nevertheless, evidence procured in this objectionable manner was allowed to influence the minds alike of Captain Bruce, Colonel Eden, and the Governor General. This was the first time that he had ever known an Indian Prince condemned without knowing the charge that was brought against him and having an opportunity of defending himself, and he thought the case might very properly be referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, who could then advise Her Majesty to reverse or modify the decision of the Secretary of State. No doubt the British Government, in its capacity as paramount Power, was bound to take cognizance of these acts, and it was also free to entrust the inquiry to whom it pleased. But, considering the great difficulty and obscurity of the ease, some competent judicial officers ought to have been associated with Colonel Eden and Captain Blair in the investigation, and forms of procedure held to be essential safeguards of justice should have been scrupulously observed in order to in- 966 sure for the accused a fair trial. It was monstrous that a native Prince should be placed in a worse position than the humblest British subject, when accused of a criminal offence. Last Session he was taken to task for passing a reflection upon political officers. What he said was, that they were most unfit persons to conduct such an investigation. But if he had said that diplomatists were ill-qualified to sit as Judges no aspersion would have been thereby cast upon them. It was clear from what Colonel Eden wrote on the 14th of August, that before the inquiry commenced, he was discussing the punishment. He trusted the plea would not be raised in opposition to this Motion, that it was necessary to support our authority in India; because if that argument was carried to its legitimate conclusion, there was no remedy for injustice done in India. Authority should only be supported when in the right, not when in the wrong. To support authority when in the wrong was not to uphold it, but to weaken it, by depriving it of the respect of the governed. In corroboration of that view, Sir Bartle Frere, formerly a Member of the Government of India, expressed an opinion 10 years ago, to the effect that there should be a tribunal formed in connection with the Privy Council, to which any native might, if aggrieved, have the right to appeal. Since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he had shown no disposition to take up grievances, and this was the first case of the kind he had interfered in, though not the first in which he had been asked to interfere. He had only brought forward this Motion, therefore, because he felt deeply that if this Prince be refused what was due to every accused person, a fair hearing and opportunity of defending himself, the confidence of the Princes of India in the justice and good feeling of this country would be seriously impaired, while every native Prince would feel that he might at any time fall a victim to a cabal, or the prejudice of local functionaries, and would tremble for the security of his possessions. He would now conclude by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
, in seconding the Motion, said, he preferred it to one which he made last Session, when he introduced the question before the 967 House, especially as his hon. Friend's acquaintance with Indian affairs and the high position he had filled in India rendered him so competent to deal with the subject. So long as an investigation was instituted, it mattered not whether it was conducted by a Committee of the House, as he proposed last year, or by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which his hon. Friend now proposed, except for the fact that the eminent lawyers in the House were too much engaged in their own practice to give due attention to any labours which might be assigned to them as Members of a Select Committee. It was for this latter reason that he thought his hon. Friend's (Sir Charles Wingfield's) Motion an improvement on his own. Every hon. Member must feel considerable anxiety in regard to the affairs of India at the present time. Whenever the Indian Budget was brought in, they always found great difficulty prevailed in connection with the finances. The only remedy he could see for that state of things was to attempt a reduction of the military expenditure which was consequent upon keeping so large a force in India. If the Army there were reduced, we should hear no more of deficits, and the finances might then be placed on a satisfactory basis. This reduction, however, could hardly be looked for so long as we were not on friendly terms with the native Princes. He did not know how far the rumours were well founded as to the feelings of the Mahomedans of India; though he was glad to learn that that great man, whose untimely tragic death they all deplored, had won their confidence; but if they had any grievances to redress, it was worthy consideration whether they might not fairly appeal to the Government for an investigation into the matter. He was glad to see by a paper he held in his hand, that in a recent Kooka outbreak the army of a native Prince had stood loyally by our Government. The Nawab of Tonk was a Mahomedan; and the House would, perhaps, agree with him as to the importance of the Government doing what they could to cultivate any friendly feeling which the Princes of India might exhibit towards them. For his part, he believed that the people of that country were disposed to be faithful to the British Government; and it was, at any rate, highly 968 necessary, for the maintenance of that loyalty, that we should fully adhere to the terms of the Proclamation issued by Her Majesty when the present Earl of Derby was Secretary of State, since the people of India regarded that Proclamation as their Magna Charta. He had received a copy of a letter on this subject, written by one whose name was widely known—Dr. Russell, the War Correspondent of The Times during the Indian Mutiny, as on many other occasions. Dr. Russell says—As a Christian State we can never either civilize in our own way, evangelize in any way, or secure in their allegiance to the Queen, the people of India until we keep our compacts and our promises in regard to the Princes of India without equivocation or subterfuge, and set an example of honourable dealing and of lofty principle which may have its effect on them, and which alone is compatible with the holy mission of which we preach and speak. 'Quid prosunt leges sine moribus?' No cause can prosper unless its advocates show by their acts that they have faith in their professions, and are under the influence of their doctrines; and the dangers with which our rule in India may he threatened will be augmented just in proportion as we educate the people and enable them to detect discrepancies between the creed announced and the practice adopted by their rulers. I am satisfied that if we secure the fidelity of the Princes of India by just government and faithful adherence to treaties and agreements, we shall best promote the maintenance of our power and content the people at large.Now, the course which had been adopted in regard to the Nawab of Tonk was calculated to alienate the Princes of India; for they could not help feeling how uncertain their position was when one of their number had been deposed without a fair trial. It was admitted that the investigation had not been conducted by a tribunal of lawyers, but by young officers of no judicial experience, who, however well-meaning, might have taken a prejudiced view. His hon. Friend's Motion put the question fairly before the House, and if the House adopted it, the impression would go forth to the people of India that the Government were ever ready to remedy the grievances of any of Her Majesty's subjects, and the House could not shut its eyes to what might be the effect on the minds of the people of India of a native Prince being condemned in such a manner. The hon. Member concluded by seconding the Motion.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to refer the case of the Ex-Nawab of Tonk for consideration by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, under the provisions of the Act of the 3rd and 4th Will. 4, c. 41, s. 4, commonly called the Privy Council Act,"—(Sir Charles Wingfield,)
MR. GRANT DUFF
Sir, before I come to the question whether this case should be referred to the Privy Council, there is a preliminary question that ought to be asked and answered. Does it require to be referred to any tribunal whatsoever? Has it not been settled, and re-settled, and settled yet again by the tribunal best fitted to settle it? The fallacy that vitiates the view that has been taken of the Tonk case by some hon. Gentlemen who spoke last year, as well as by the two hon. Members who have just addressed the House is this—they treat the action of the Indian Government as if it could have been judicial in the strict and technical sense. But that is not so. Its action was political, and must have been political. The ex-Nawab of Tonk was no subject of ours. He was a semi-independent Prince of the class usually and conveniently, but loosely and most misleadingly, described as feudatory. We had not in relation to him rights identical with those which, when the feudal system was in its glory, the liege lords of Western Europe claimed over their vassals. Our rights in relation to our so-called feudatories are rights partly defined by treaties, partly dependent on the necessary influence of power and civilization in contact with backward societies, and partly dependent upon the fact that our supremacy makes revolt against those personages impossible, and consequently obliges us in honour and conscience to prevent misgovernment becoming altogether intolerable. The ex-Nawab of Tonk was not, as a true feudatory would have been, subject to his lord's court, neither was he arraigned by us for a crime against our municipal law. If he had been, I am afraid that his neck would have been in very great and very deserved danger. He was proceeded as a small semi-independent Potentate who had committed political of- 970 fence against the Pax Britannica, who had done an act which, if only often enough repeated, would cover India with blood and confusion. He was deposed for having commenced and carried through to the bitter end a small private war against a neighbour, whose relations with him had only a year or two before been anxiously and carefully defined by the British Government. If there had been any room for a strictly judicial procedure, a judicial procedure would have taken place. But the scene of the offence was a remote native State, which knew nothing of our Courts or Judges, and where the ruler had just given a terrible proof of how little the ordinary course of justice was compatible with his sovereignty. The procedure which we did adopt was the only procedure possible—the sending to the spot the best and acutest officers whom we had in that part of India to investigate all the circumstances while they were still recent. It is complained that the ex-Nawab did not see the depositions; but, I repeat, this proceeding was not a judicial one, and there were no technical rules which it was necessary to follow. Substantial justice had, of course, to be done, and it was done. The Nawab knew perfectly well the evidence of his own carefully tutored witnesses, and as for the other witnesses he had the fullest opportunity of cross-examining them by his own vakeel, or agent, a power of which he availed himself; and he himself admitted, both verbally to Captain Bruce and through his vakeel, that he had no more evidence in his own favour to produce. The only marvel was that, under the circumstances, witnesses should have been found to dare to speak against him at all. That any were found shows how strong is the support which British influence can give to the weaker party, even in the lion's den itself. The pettiness of the Tonk State, which is just twice the size of Lanarkshire, and the small number of the persons killed, misleads hon. Members; but suppose that the offender—the raiser of private war—had been a person higher in the scale of Indian Princes, suppose that one of the greater Potentates of the Peninsula—I will name no names—had begun and carried through a private war on a somewhat larger scale, would the House of Commons have insisted that, before we marched a force against 971 him and punished him for so great a scandal, he should see the depositions? I have shown that the case not being a judicial one, it could not he in reason expected that all the forms proper to judicial proceedings should be followed; but will any man maintain that there was not a full examination? What do you call a full examination? This case was just seven times examined by separate authorities, and amongst those authorities were included some of the ablest men whom you ever had in India. The House will, I trust, bearing in mind the fact that Her Majesty's Government had not in the debate of last year, which came on it may be remembered at a late hour, the opportunity of saying one single word about the case, allow me to state its real facts. The deposed Nawab of Tonk was the grandson of a notorious Pindaree or brigand leader, who, like the rest of his detestable fraternity, inflicted many calamities upon India in the first and second decades of this century. We made a treaty with him in 1817, and ever since he and his family have ruled over a small principality in Rajpootana. Taking advantage of some expressions in British official reports, the advocates of this man, who have been very busy in putting his case before the English public, and one of whom has circulated amongst hon. Members of this House, an amusing, but impudent little book, called, A Pilgrimage to the Caaba and Charing Cross, have represented him as a highly meritorious Ruler. That statement is not correct, and to show what he really was, I will read an extract from an account of him by the Governor General's agent in Rajpootana, written in June, 1867—that is, just before the events happened which we are investigating to-night—The administration of the Nawab does not lack in vigour, and the energy with which His Highness visits in person at all seasons of the year the outlying districts of Tonk is praiseworthy, presenting a marked contrast with the apathetic indifference evinced generally by the Rulers of Rajpootana in all matters of personal supervision. But, at the same time, I am compelled to record that these periodical visits are dreaded rather than hailed by the subjects of the State. Judging from the experience of the past, they are regarded as precursors of a money demand in some shape or form. Shortly after His Highness's accession to the chiefship, a heavy hand was laid on all classes throughout the State, whether thakoors, ryots, or merchants. Latterly, the Nawab has been more moderate, and, to a certain 972 extent, public confidence has been restored. But nevertheless the trade in Tonk itself, which was formerly very large, has suffered considerably. There can be no doubt, moreover, that the chief's ultra-Mahomedan proclivities render him unpopular amongst his Hindoo subjects. The building of Hindoo temples is said to be interdicted, and even the repair of those in existence to be discountenanced. The late Nawab was most orthodox in his tenets, but a freedom of action was nevertheless accorded to those not of his faith, but living under his sway. The absence of all, except Mahomedans, whether in the army, or in the civil offices of the State, exhibits a bigotry strangely contrasting with the liberality displayed in the surrounding Rajpoot Principalities, in one and all of which persons of every creed are to be found in employment.The ex-Nawab of Tonk had been for a long time on bad terms with his principal feudatory, the Thakoor of Lawa, in whose veins flowed the bluest blood of the Rajpoots, and who was, of course, a Hindoo, while the Nawab of Tonk was, as we have seen, a Mahomedan. They were, as might have been expected, perpetually quarrelling, and faults were committed on both sides. But in the same report which I have just quoted, the Governor General's agent in Rajpootana, Colonel Eden, thus describes the state of their relations—Ever since the Thakoor has, I believe, honestly endeavoured to observe his duty and obligations towards his chief; but the Nawab, on the contrary, has sought to bring about a fresh disturbance by means more plausible than truthful or creditable; and at this present time His Highness desires to confiscate half the Lawa estate, on the grounds that the Thakoor's Sunnud, granted by the Maharajah of Jeypore early in the 18th century, does not entitle him to the land he now holds.Such was the state of affairs when, in an evil hour for himself, the ex-Nawab thought that he would cut the Gordian knot of all difficulties with his powerful vassal, by improving him or his chief counsellor and supporter off the face of creation, and hence the terrible occurrences of the 1st August, 1867. The hon. Member for Penrhyn (Mr. R. N. Fowler) told us last year his version of what happened that night—a version founded chiefly on the evidence of Hafiz Ahmed, a follower of the ex-Nawab, and the author of the book I have alluded to, who professes to have been upon the spot, but who gave his so-called evidence here in London unsworn, before no authority, and not under cross-examination; whereas, the evidence on which the late Secretary of State relied, was taken at Tonk, im- 973 mediately after the event, before authority, under cross-examination, and was sworn. What really occurred was this—The ex-Nawab of Tonk having invited to his capital the Thakoor of Lawa with his uncle, who was his chief adviser, for the Thakoor himself took little active part in the management of his affairs, sent a message requesting them to go on the evening of the 1st August, 1867, to discuss some business with his Prime Minister, in the house of his Prime Minister. Thither the uncle went with a party of attendants, undeterred by the rumours which were rife in the town that treachery was intended; and no sooner had they got within the walls of the house than they were surrounded by a superior force, and, with one single exception, cut to pieces. There were 15 of them killed, while on the Tonk side only one man fell. The Thakoor, luckily for him, stayed at home, and was not murdered; but his house was surrounded by armed men to prevent his escape, and a force was sent off that very night with scaling ladders to attack Lawa, the real head of which fell when the uncle of the Thakoor met his death in the house of the Tonk Prime Minister. The hon. Member wants to inquire whether the recognized principles of justice were attended to; but what does justice require in such a case but the fullest investigation possible? Had the case not that investigation? Let us see. The chain of opinion against the ex-Nawab, which I am going to cite, will show whether or not the matter was fully, fairly, carefully investigated. It extends from the subordinate political officer, who investigated the matter on the spot, eight days after the occurrence, up to two Governors General, and two Secretaries of State, with their respective Councils. It is unbroken, and it is unanimous in all really essential points. I say really essential points, to show that I am not forgetting the point about Captain Bruce, to which the hon. Member for Gravesend alluded. The first opinion that I shall cite is that of Captain Roberts—a political and diplomatic officer of merit—one of those political officers to whom, as much as to any other men, we owe our Eastern Empire. He was sent eight days after the occurrence of the 1st August, 1867, to investigate the case, and his opinion was as follows:— 974From all I have heard, I have no doubt in my own mind, that the Lawa party were treacherously inveigled and attacked. At first, I thought the Nawab was not cognizant of the affair; but I have since changed my mind.The next opinion I shall cite is that of a very distinguished officer now, as I have mentioned, unhappily, dead—Captain Bruce, the political agent at Harrowtee, who was sent to Tonk a week or two later, and who thus expresses his opinion of the evidence, in a letter to the agent to the Governor General in Rajpootana, dated the 13th September, 1867—after giving the ex-Nawab the fullest opportunity of appearing by counsel, and of cross-examining the hostile witnesses, and of calling his son, all of which he did—It remains to decide which story is most likely to be true. I must frankly confess I believe Lawa; and if my credulity in this instance does injustice to Tonk, I can only urge that the nature of their defence throughout, and the manner in which it has been supported, are calculated to induce scepticism as to their veracity.Next I come to Colonel Eden, the agent of the Governor General in Rajpootana, who in a letter to the Secretary to the Government, dated 6th of September, enclosing Capt. Bruce's report, and reviewing the case, writes as follows:—Taking the Tonk version of the case, either in whole or in part, we cannot but be convinced of its untruthfulness throughout.His Excellency in Council will not fail to observe that the Nawab's own uncle and his own brother secretly admitted to Mr. Bruce the truth of the conclusion arrived at; they only endeavoured to palliate the conduct of the Nawab and Hakeem Surwur Shah, in so far that they deny that there was any intention of butchering Rewut Sing and those who accompanied him, and declare that the arrest of the party was all that was desired; that through failure, or bungling in execution, such deplorable results ensued.In short, it appears to me that, whilst there is no evidence whatever to support the conclusion that a massacre was not intended, there is very strong reason to believe it was; and I am of opinion that Captain Roberts, in his demi-official letter of the 9th ult., submitted to Government on the 14th idem, correctly estimated the causes and arguments which induced the perpetration of so foul an outrage.I feel convinced the Hakeem would never have attempted to carry out the plot without the consent and approval of his master; and we may further rest satisfied that this deed of blood would never have been transacted, unless all the actors had been assured of their Chief's tacit consent, and were promised his full support, whatever happened. The Nawab's subsequent conduct and action fully support this belief. Not the slightest regret has been expressed for what occurred; but, on the contrary, 975 witnesses have been suborned and false statements set forth, and Surwur Shah and his myrmidoms backed to the fullest extent. The Nawab's connivance in the scheme to entrap the Lawa party by treachery has been admitted by his nearest relations, and is fully borne out by the evidence; and the mind that can approve of one kind of foul play has not far to step when acceding to another.Before I come to the opinion of Colonel Eden's superiors—to the opinion of the Governor General in Council, I wish to dispose of the allegation that Lord Lawrence merely followed the opinion of his subordinate officers. No allegation could be more improbable on the face of it; but, so far from this being the case, this Tonk case was considered with quite peculiar care, and Lord Lawrence delayed announcing his decision till he communicated with the Secretary of State, because he wished to be quite sure of his support, since, if by any chance the proceedings were overruled at home, it would have been a great blow to our influence in India.
My hon. Friend may rest assured that the deposition of the ex-Nawab of Tonk has been hailed as a just and righteous act by all honest men amongst the natives of India. They do not ask whether the ex-Nawab was deposed on the recommendation of a Judge or of a political officer. The honest men among the natives of India, who know the story, I say, do not ask whether we decided on deposing him after a judicial or a political investigation; they ask simply whether the act of the paramount Power was just and righteous, and they say that it was just and righteous. They say that the Tonk Ruler only acted like his grandfather, and that his grandfather would well have deserved the same fate. Does the hon. Gentleman opposite, who first brought forward this case, know what the grandfather did? If he does not, I will tell him, that he may judge whether the murder of the Lawa people by this innocent lamb of a client of his was an improbable act. I quote from Colonel Tod's Annals of Rajasthan—A spacious tent was pitched in the centre of his camp for the reception of his guests" who belonged, I may mention, to a rival faction in Marwar. "The visitors were received with the most distinguished courtesy; turbans were again exchanged; the dancing girls were introduced, and nothing but festivity was apparent. The Khan arose, and making an excuse to his guests for a momentary absence, retired. The dancing continued, when, at a given signal, down sunk the tent upon the unsuspicious Rajpoots, who fell an 976 easy prey to the ferocious Pathans. Forty-two chieftains were thus butchered in the very sanctuary of hospitality. Their adherents, taken by-surprise, were slaughtered by the soldiery, or by cannon charged with grape as they fled.For this exploit, which took place in 1808, the grandfather received £100,000, two large towns, and some other rewards. If 60 years after the grandson, for a humble but successful imitation of the act, has not received a similar reward, it is not the fault of the hon. Gentleman. I come next to the opinion of the Governor General and his Council, from whose despatch, dated the 23rd September, 1867, I quote the following:—We have read, and considered with care and anxious deliberation all the evidence in this case, and it is with pain that we have come to the conclusion that the view taken by our agent is fully substantiated; that the uncle and cousin of the Lawa chief, with their followers, were basely and treacherously murdered by Hakeem Surwur Shah; and that this was done at the instigation of the Nawab himself. We are unanimous in the opinion that it was for this purpose the chief and his followers were summoned from Lawa to present themselves at Tonk. We do not credit that the chief's uncle repaired of his own motion on the night of the tragedy to Surwur Shah's house; it seems certain that he was summoned. Nor do we believe that it was intended simply to seize him and his followers; on the contrary, we feel convinced that it was intended to murder them.This is signed by Sir John Lawrence, Sir William Mansfield, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Massey, Sir Henry Durand, and Sir George Yule. Then follows the opinion of the right hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), and his Council, and from their despatch of the 15th November, 1867, I quote as follows:—Whether, as Colonel Eden believes, the murder was contemplated from the first, or whether, as Captain Bruce supposes, the original intention was to arrest the Thakoor and his followers, and to seize Lawa, it is plain that a deliberate act of gross treachery, which resulted in the assassination of 15 persons, has been committed, and that the Nawab must have been himself a party to it. You are unanimously of opinion that the view taken by Colonel Eden is fully substantiated, and I see no reason to doubt that you have arrived at a right conclusion.I come next to the opinion of Lord Mayo and his Council, expressed in a despatch dated the 13th March, 1869, from which it will be enough to quote the words—We need hardly say that there is nothing in the Memorial which should lead us in any way to modify the opinion of the Government of India already expressed on this case.This was signed by Lord Mayo, Sir Henry Maine, and Mr. Strachey, as well as by 977 one of those who signed the former despatch—Sir Henry Durand, so there were nine independent opinions. I shall next quote the opinion of Captain Blair, the political officer, sent, at a later period, to take charge of Tonk, by Lord Lawrence. Captain Blair, writing on the 26th June, 1868, to Colonel Keatinge, the agent of the Governor General, for Rajpootana, says—It is notorious in Tonk, and is openly stated by everyone here, that Goolab Khan was the only individual on the part of the assailants who was killed on that occasion, instead of seven, as set forth by the ex-Nawab. This can be most conclusively proved now.And, again—Residing at Tonk, I have necessarily heard many particulars of the manner and circumstances under which the treachery was planned, and the massacre transacted, for the matter is generally spoken of. The very exclamations of Thakoor Rewut Singh, when being butchered, are made a matter of conversation; and it seems to me, therefore, little short of marvellous that the ex-Nawab should still attempt by hard swearing to foist on the Government a story so utterly false and incredible.The case, as the House will see, was considered and settled, and re-considered and re-settled by the late Government. It has been re-reconsidered and re-resettled by the present Government. On the 10th August, 1869, my noble Friend the present Secretary of State for India wrote to Lord Mayo—After a careful examination of all the evidence advanced upon both sides, I cannot discern any sufficient grounds for departing from the opinion which your Excellency's Government has expressed with respect to the guilty complicity of the Nawab in the murderous outrage which resulted in his banishment to Benares.If there ever was a case which received anxious and careful and impartial attention, this, I think, is that case.
I trust I have shown that it does not require to be referred to any tribunal whatever; but I am sure that whether it does or does not, it cannot be referred to the tribunal to which my hon. Friend desires to refer it. My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend's Motion is founded on a very natural, but a very complete, misconception of the meaning of a clause in the Privy Council Act. That clause simply gives power to Her Majesty to refer to a particular Committee of the Council, matters which would naturally come before the Queen in Council. It gives no power whatever to refer to the Judicial Committee anything whatsoever 978 which does not naturally come before the Queen in Council. I say this with the more confidence because, a short time ago, we fell into the same mistake at the India Office into which my hon. Friend has fallen, and we tried to refer to the Judicial Committee a difficult question which had arisen. The acting Lord President of the Council, however, utterly refused to have anything to do with it, and his view was sustained by legal authority which we could not gainsay. However that may be, I can hardly conceive a question less suitable than this for discussion by that august tribunal, which is accustomed to deal with matters of a totally different character, and to deal with them upon appeal from regularly constituted Courts sitting in India. Even if the clause quoted by my hon. Friend meant what he thinks it means, the Judicial Committee would be very unwilling to exercise the power with which my hon. Friend would like to see it invested. If he thinks otherwise, let him look at the case of the "Queen v. Joy Kissen Mookerjee" in Moore's Reports, vol. ix., and he will find admirably set forth by Dr. Lushington, the fatal results which would follow if there were a right of appeal to the Privy Council in criminal cases occurring in India. How much worse would it be if the Judicial Committee had jurisdiction conferred upon it in a case which only looks like a criminal case, but is really a political one. But I cannot believe that the House will ever arrive at the consideration of the question, whether the Judicial Committee is a proper body to investigate matters of this kind. I believe it will answer in the affirmative the previous question which I have raised—will declare, that is, that this matter requires no further investigation—that it has been sifted to the bottom. I am sure, if it does not do so, that it will strike a blow at the authority of its officers in India who are intrusted with the duty of dealing with native States such as has never been struck before. The first result of so unfortunate a decision will be to give a truly terrible stimulus to the manufacture of sham grievances on the part of a host of personages who are now fairly contented, but who, like the rest of the world, would like, unquestionably, to have more of various advantages than they have got. And the second result will be to 979 bring about a state of things so utterly intolerable that it could only end in passing the steam-roller of British power over every native State that is left in India. The erection of the Judicial Committee or any other legal tribunal into the position of a Judge and Lawgiver over the Princes of India may look like a Liberal measure, as taking them altogether out of the power of the Governor General; but, remember that there are things done every day in many native States, which would, if brought before any British tribunal, be condemned by that tribunal, while at present the Governor General only interferes in cases where misrule and atrocity go beyond all bounds when judged not by the British, but by the Asiatic standard; when, in short, the evil done amounts not merely to great private wrong, but to a grievous political transgression against the paramount Power. Alter that arrangement of affairs, and you inaugurate a struggle which can only end in one way—and that a way to which no one can look forward with pleasure who does not belong to the most extreme school of annexationists. By taking away from the Indian Government the power of redressing intolerable wrongs, by deposing the offending Prince, we shall simply be playing into the hands of those who say—Why have you merely substituted in Tonk one barbarian for another? Why have you not seized the territory and given it the blessings of British rule? That is not what is desired by those who will support my hon. Friend to-night, but that is what will be effected by them, if, in an evil hour for India and England, they succeed in undoing what has been done.
§ MR. H. B. SAMUELSON
said, he did not believe that the character of the Nawab of Tonk had anything to do with the important question which the Motion of his hon. Friend brought before the House. He felt very much inclined to give him his vote, although he had been told by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India that it would be injudicious, if not impossible, to refer the matter to the tribunal to which his hon. Friend wished to have it referred. At the same time, while he was not prepared to maintain that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was the tribunal best fitted to 980 revise this question, it appeared to him that the guilt or innocence of this unfortunate Prince bore very little on the general issue, whether or not public trials should be given to persons accused of crime against the public welfare, as well in India as at home. In the case under consideration it was clear that the Nawab of Tonk had been tried, condemned, sentenced, and punished after two investigations, at neither of which had the Nawab the opportunity of defending himself, or of calling witnesses such as would be afforded in the Regulation districts of India to persons accused of much slighter offences. Moreover, he had not been previously put in possession of the charge brought against him. While he did not deny that as the law stood there was no illegality in the mode of conducting these trials, he contended that the state of the law was monstrous on the face of it, which permited the possibility of an independent native Prince, of ancient family, and the Sovereign ruler over a large population, to be dethroned and banished from his principality without a fair trial, and without seeing the reports, which were the foundation of his heavy sentence, for twelve months after that sentence had been pronounced and carried into execution. He could conceive that such tribunals as had condemned the Nawab of Tonk might have suited their purpose, when the Government of India was carrying on a continual struggle for supremacy; but they must be considered behind the spirit of the present age. He thought that the case brought before the House proved the existence of an indisputable necessity for giving to independent native Princes a guarantee that, when charges were brought against them they would be fairly tried in an open Court on the spot, such Court to consist of men of high reputation, great legal acquirements, and long Indian experience. Nothing could be of greater importance than that there should be on the part of independent native Princes, perfect confidence in the impartiality of the Indian Government in respect to all matters relating to their interests; otherwise, it was certain that the belief of our Indian subjects and allies in the honour and integrity of their English rulers would receive a shock that might produce the most serious consequences.
§ MR. EASTWICK
said, that in this painful case they had to deal with a most difficult dilemma. On the one hand, everyone must see the extreme inconvenience of raising questions in Parliament which had been settled by the Supreme Government of India and by the Secretary of State in Council. It had been said, and to a great extent he assented to the doctrine, that India must be governed in India, and, certainly the reversal of a Viceroy's decision by this House, or by the Privy Council, must necessarily impair the authority even of his successor, and encourage constant appeals from it. It was absurd, too, to suppose that any man, however able, in this country, and after the lapse of years, could form so true an opinion of what had happened in India as the Viceroy and the officers employed by him, who examined into the matter on the spot. On the other hand, much as he thought appeals of this nature ought, as a rule, to be discouraged, he could not but feel that utterly to close the door upon the complaints of native Princes, and to deny them the right of appeal altogether, was hardly consistent with justice, or with the solemn declaration of Her Majesty to maintain their rights. Now, in this particular case it could not be denied that there were grounds for appeal, for Captain Bruce, on whose report the Nawab was deposed and his Minister imprisoned, had himself explicitly stated that he was "convinced of the futility of endeavouring to elicit the real facts by anything like judicial proof," and that "if testimony alone could establish a case the Tonk evidence might be considered complete." Colonel Eden, too, who confirmed the report of his subordinate officer, said it was "useless to arraign the Minister on a criminal charge, for we could obtain no judicial proof." There were also grave mistakes in the proceedings both of Colonel Eden and of Captain Bruce. Had this most serious and important case been investigated before the Viceroy himself—a Viceroy so profoundly acquainted with Indian affairs as Lord Lawrence—or had it been tried by a learned Judge experienced in weighing evidence, he should have shrunk from the task of criticizing the proceedings. But as it was investigated by military officers with no more judicial knowledge than he had himself when he was in the Indian political de- 982 partment, he did not hesitate to animadvert on the irregular and imperfect character of the whole inquiry. He said, then, that Colonel Eden and Captain Bruce both began by showing that they had prejudged the case. Colonel Eden, as soon as he heard of the affray, dismissed the agent of the Nawab of Tonk and replaced him by a representative of the Lawa people. Captain Bruce, on the 5th of August, 1867, before he had begun the inquiry, received an anonymous letter from the Lawa people giving their version of the affair, and wrote to the Nawab in a strain which assumed his guilt. What would have been said in England of a Judge who received an ex farte statement before a trial, adopted it, and reported it to the Government? The Nawab was never allowed to be present during the whole inquiry, and did not know till long afterwards the evidence on which he was condemned. The Under Secretary of State had, indeed, justified this on the ground that it was a political not a judicial inquiry, and that no judicial inquiry was possible in the case of a semi-independent Prince. But either the Nawab was on his trial, or he was not. If he was deposed without being tried, then these proceedings were a solemn mockery. The depositions were sent up to the Governor General in a fragmentary state, for Captain Bruce writes on the 13th of September—"Many questions are now on record, which, though asked, were inadvertently left out in the written proceedings already submitted." It was not till 20 days after Captain Bruce's report had been sent to the Governor General that that officer reported to Colonel Eden the important fact that the names of six men who were said by the Lawa people to have been killed on their side were found in the Tonk muster-roll, and that their bodies were claimed by families living in Tonk. He held that the omission to report this important point was alone sufficient to nullify all that had been done. There were many weak points in the Lawa story which had been wholly passed over by Colonel Eden and Captain Bruce. For instance, it was, to say the least, improbable that a Mahomedan should have sent for a party of armed Rajpoots into his women's apartments at night, or that if he had sent for them no suspicion would have been excited, or that they would have obeyed the sum- 983 mons. But it was enough that an Indian Prince with whom we had treaties, and whose father had been thanked for his good faith during the Mutiny, had been dethroned and his Minister condemned to perpetual incarceration in the entire absence of judicial proof, and after a mere informal inquiry conducted by a young military officer devoid of legal training and experience. When we first visited India such an arbitrary way of dealing with the liberties and property of the people might have been justified by stern necessity. But in these days, with India entirely subject to our rule, and when not the slightest resistance was made even to such a procedure as this, the time had come to adopt a course more in accordance with justice and the feelings of Englishmen. What, then, was to be done? He could not agree that the case should be referred to the Privy Council. Such a course would be extremely embarrassing to the Government of India, and could lead to no beneficial results. Even were it possible to establish the innocence of the Nawab and his Minister they could not be restored, for that would be to endanger all those who had in the slightest degree sided against them, to resuscitate the feud between Tonk and Lawa, and to unsettle the whole country. Nor did he agree with those who thought a permanent Court, such as that of which a long account had been just read to them, should be established for trying such cases, because this could not be done without impairing the authority of the Viceroy. He suggested that, in future, in all cases where serious charges were brought against native Princes, the inquiry should be conducted by a Judge, and that the Viceroy should associate a political officer with him as assessor. He thought that, as the charges had not been judicially proved against the Minister or against the Nawab, the Minister, who was suffering under a fatal disease, should be considered to be sufficiently punished, and should be released, while the Nawab, whom, he must repeat, it would be dangerous under the circumstances to restore to his country, should be permitted to reside in any part of India he liked, except Rajpootana, without surveillance. In that manner, we might escape retracing our steps, and at the same time act justly.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, he should refrain from entering upon the general question, and would deal with the proposal to refer the question to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It was true the Act of Parliament constituting the Committee empowered Her Majesty, in general terms, to refer any matter she chose to the Committee, but that general provision had to be interpreted by the special provisions preceding it. Her Majesty had a right to ask advice from all her Privy Councillors, who might be compelled in theory to give such advice; but it was well known that, although this was so in theory, in practice advice was tendered to Her Majesty only by those Privy Councillors who formed the Executive for the time being. It was certainly never intended that the Crown should apply to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for advice on questions of general policy, and if the Committee were asked by Her Majesty to express an opinion as to whether a certain John Jones was guilty of murder, it would answer that to do so was not within its province, because John Jones was not prosecuted before it; for the same reason the case of the ex-Nawab was beyond the jurisdiction of the Committee, for they had not tried him, and they could not give a judicial opinion on the merits of the ease. Moreover, the question in this case was, whether the retainers of an Indian Prince had committed murder; precisely that kind of question the Judicial Committee could not answer, because it had no machinery, apart from a distinct prosecution in the ordinary way, for gathering evidence together for trying such an issue, examining and cross-examining witnesses after a lapse of six years, and to which the Nawab could not be a party. The question was an abstract question, involving simply the propriety of the course pursued by the Executive Government in India and in England. He thought he had said enough to satisfy the House that it was quite impossible a question of that kind should be referred to the Judicial Committee; indeed he believed that if the House should be so unwise as to adopt that course, the Committee would reject the reference. He must be excused for saying he did not intend, and it would be absurd in him to pretend—to take a part in the discussion of the general 985 question after the exhaustive speech of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State; but he hoped the House would feel that, whether having regard to the proper functions of the Judicial Committee, or to the ordinary rules on which trials were conducted, it was impossible to refer such a question as this for its consideration.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
said, that a good deal of what he intended to say had been anticipated by what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Solicitor General. He could not, however, entirely concur with him in thinking that the Judicial Committee had no criminal jurisdiction. There was scarcely any tribunal known in this country, or in the world, which had so universal a scope as to its jurisdiction and means of inquiry. The 7th section of the Act expressly provided that that tribunal might take the evidence of witnesses on matters referred to it, either orally or by written deposition. When this case was brought before the House last Session, he read the whole of the Papers relating to it, and he could not resist the conclusion that it was not a fit question to be referred to the Judicial Committee. The judgment which had been pronounced in this case, if it could be called judgment, was one of a political and not of a judicial character—namely, that the Nawab of Tonk was a person unfit to be intrusted with the lives of others, and the sentence was, that he should be deposed, and the salute for Tonk reduced from 13 guns to 11. There were three reasons why he could not assent to this Motion—namely, first, that the substantial merits of the case were against the Nawab, as the real facts left no reasonable doubt on the mind that the Nawab had been guilty of a cold-blooded, deliberate, and treacherous murder. Secondly, that this was an attempt, under the guise of recommending an appeal to the Privy Council, to pass a censure on the conduct of Lord Lawrence and the Executive Government of India in the management of those delicate relations existing between the Government of India and the native Princes. Thirdly, if there was any cause of complaint in the matter—as to which he expressed no opinion—it was not a fit matter for appeal to the Privy Council, but rather for making a change in the system of procedure in dealing with that class of cases. 986 The hon. Mover of this Motion summed up his case with the questions—whether the procedure in that case, was in accordance with the principles of justice; and, whether the Government of India in their proceedings had disregarded the first principles of justice; but he altogether declined to enter upon the question of the guilt or innocence of the Nawab. If the present case were to be referred to the Judicial Committee, there were only three matters which could be submitted for their consideration and advice—namely, first, the merits of the procedure; secondly, the conduct of the Executive Government; and, thirdly, the merits of the case—that was to say, whether the Nawab was or was not guilty of an atrocious murder. The hon. Mover had abandoned the third of those points—namely, the guilt or innocence of the Nawab. Did he then want the Judicial Committee to advise Her Majesty as to the conduct of the Executive Government, or as to the merits of the particular mode of procedure at present in use? He thought such a reference inadmissible and unconstitutional. If it had been merely a question as to guilt or innocence, that was a matter on which, if the law had so provided, there might have been such an appeal; but he thought the law had provided no such appeal. That was a political proceeding altogether, and it was never intended by the Act of 1833 to create a Court of Appeal from the Executive Government of India as to matters of State and the management of their delicate relations with native Princes; that Act extended only to judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings and matters ejusdem generis, and even if the words of the Act could properly be construed as giving a power to refer such a question as this to that tribunal, which he entirely disputed, it would be most unwise for the House to recommend that proceeding.
§ MR. MORRISON
said, that the question was not whether the Judicial Committee was the proper tribunal to investigate a charge of murder, but rather whether the evidence before the Indian Government was sufficient to warrant the decision arrived at in this particular case. The Solicitor General had asked, how was it possible for any judicial body to go into the investigation of a case which took place so many years ago? Now, as he (Mr. Morrison) had always under- 987 stood, the practice on Indian appeals was to take the written evidence of both parties, and that counsel should endeavour to put that evidence fully before the Court. He thought his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India had raised a prejudice by travelling out of the record into irrelevant matter. The question to be decided by the Government of India was, was the Prime Minister of Nawab concerned in this murder, if murder it was? and to answer that, he could not consider it relevant to that subject to inquire into what had been the conduct of the grandfather of the Nawab. It did not follow because the grandfather was hanged, that all his grandchildren should be guilty of murder. All through the speech of his hon. Friend there ran this great fallacy. He assumed that the case of the Nawab was a false one, and laid down certain statements as to what had happened. Now, the real point at issue was, whether the statements of the Nawab's witnesses were correct or not. His hon. Friend had stated that this was not a case which could be investigated by the ordinary Courts of India; that he was not exactly a tributary, and therefore was not liable to the jurisdiction of our Courts. But that was no reason why substantial justice could not be given to him; nor was it a justification of the charges in consequence of which the Prime Minister of the Nawab was sentenced to imprisonment for life. One of the main points of the matter was, whether the inquiry was bonâ fide judicial, and with regard to that, his hon. Friend had stated that no civil Judge could have been deputed to investigate the matter; but when he recollected the long series of military officers who were sent specially to make the investigation, he did not see why the Government of India in the exercise of its paramount authority as lords of the country should not have deputed some person accustomed to judicial inquiries to have accompanied Captain Bruce. He could not attach much weight to the opinions of Colonel Eden, who having only before him the report of Captain Bruce came to a different conclusion—namely, that not only had a murder been committed, but that the Nawab was an accomplice in that murder. It was on the report of Captain Bruce and Colonel Eden that the Government of India arrived at their deci- 988 sion. It amounted to nothing more than this—that after reading the document they came to the conclusion that they would support the decision which had been come to by their subordinate. The whole pith of the case was contained in the first letter of Captain Bruce, and it was necessary to consider how far he had made an exhaustive inquiry. It did not say much for his professional acumen in performing that task, that he did not do what an ordinary policeman in this country would have done in inquiring into a crime, for he did not examine the locality. He was glad to find that his hon. Friend admitted that the evidence about the blood stains in one of the rooms of the palace was an afterthought, and that the evidence founded upon that fabrication was unworthy of belief. In short, although much weight naturally attached to the names of those who had come to a conclusion against the Nawab, yet that was somewhat diminished, when they recollected that all these decisions were arrived at on written documents, so that persons in England able to sift evidence, were equally competent to form an opinion. He (Mr. Morrison), however, would abstain from expressing any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the Nawab. The important point to be considered was, whether the evidence was sufficient to warrant what had been done. This was not a matter which materially affected the Nawab alone. If we wished to maintain our position as rulers of India, we must convince the native nobility and chieftains that they had more to lose than to gain by a change. Whatever might be the issue of this debate, it was a good thing that the matter should be threshed out in the House of Commons, and that the people of India should know what were the grounds on which the Government of India had acted, and he trusted that the House would agree to the Motion of the hon. Member for Gravesend.
§ MR. DICKINSON
said, that it was not by agreeing to such a Motion as the present under discussion, that redress was to be obtained. The only ground put forward in support of it was, that when the inquiry was made shortly after the occurrence, the Nawab had no opportunity of seeing the witnesses and examining them. But it should be borne in mind that the Government had be- 989 fore them a statement of the case by both parties, from which it appeared there was no doubt that the murder did take place in the house of the Prime Minister of the Nawab, and that all the parties but one who went there were murdered. Before interfering with the Government of India a much stronger case ought to be made out. The objection taken was merely as to the mode in which the Governor General had made the inquiry. He thought the House ought not to be asked to pass an opinion as to the mode in which the inquiry had been conducted, so as to re-open the whole case, unless the decision appeared primâ facie incorrect. He hoped the result of the discussion would tend to a better and more satisfactory mode of conducting such inquiries than that which now obtained, for such cases, unfortunately, were becoming not unfrequent, and were not likely to be so, as long as such a number of native Princes existed.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, he was of opinion that Her Majesty had full power to refer this case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which was an advising Committee, appointed in 1833, to discharge certain duties in regard to the hearing of Petitions that the Sovereign was unable to fulfil in person. According to the Constitution of this country, it was the imperative duty of the Sovereign to protect the interests of her subjects, and the moment she became Empress of India she incurred such a responsibility in reference to the people of that Empire. He had no hesitation, in stating his belief that in the present case a piece of gross injustice had been perpetrated towards one of Her Majesty's subjects. A charge was made against him, whereupon the Government of India sent an agent or emissary, who got into communication with the enemies of the Nawab, and, prejudging his case and his defence, made a report against him. What would be said if a charge of malversation were made against one of our leading statesmen, and if, after a report from adverse witnesses, it was proposed to act upon it without fairly hearing the person accused? He was not a classical scholar, but it was said there was a Judge of the lower regions who decided first and heard the case afterwards. The ex-Nawab, having been condemned before a hearing, now came to the House and said—"I 990 have been unjustly treated, and desire my Sovereign to give me redress." "But," said the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General, and after him his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Watkin Williams), who was an admirable technical lawyer—"Her Majesty has no power to refer the case to the Judicial Committee." That was a frivolous objection—such an objection as lawyers made when they had nothing to say to the merits of the ease. As to those merits this man said—"I have been infamously treated; it is in vain for me to appeal for redress in India, and I call upon Her Majesty to do her duty towards me, one of her faithful subjects." He did not call the ex-Nawab a faithful subject without consideration, for it was well known that in the worst of times—the perilous Indian rebellion—this man remained steady to British interests, "faithful only he amongst the faithless." To some hon. Members this language might seem nonsense; but it was not nonsense to those who wished to retain the Indian Empire in the possession of Great Britain. When the government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Queen there was enthusiastic rejoicing in India, because the people of India believed they should obtain that justice which had been denied to them over and over again, and such a case as this was one which would prove whether the people of India had cause for that rejoicing. He hoped we should not fall into the error of the East India Company, who because they misgoverned India were deprived of the government of that Empire. He felt assured it would not be said that a person aggrieved by the Indian Government had no right to throw himself at the feet of Her Majesty and ask for redress. This country was on its trial, the Queen was on her trial, the Government was on its trial. In India they were watching us, they were waiting for justice. If we missed this opportunity, and an outbreak such as that which had before occurred were again repeated, and we should not be so fortunate as we were then, the universal world would say it was our own fault. As a lawyer, he believed with regard to the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council there was a perfect right of appeal, and he did not think there was 991 much force in the objection that this case was not a judicial decision, but a decision of the Indian Executive, confirmed by the Executive of this country. He would not quote the Lord Chancellor further than to say, that to hear the other side was a fixed rule in this country, and he ventured to affirm that this case had never yet been fairly and properly heard. The Nawab and his friends were not confronted with those whom he termed false witnesses, for he would assume their falsehood if they had never been cross-examined.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, the House had heard to-night something about grandfathers, and the reproduction of the character of the ancestor in his descendant. If he might venture so far as to make a conjecture with regard to the ancestors of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. M. Chambers), he would say that at some very remote period among his predecessors was to be found that celebrated Judge of whom he had spoken, Rhadamanthus, who was described as having adopted the principle "Castigat auditque." He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman having relieved himself, and having inflicted a tremendous castigation on the House, and especially on him (Sir Stafford Northcote), would now kindly give them the benefit of that milder maxim which he had quoted at the end of his speech, and hear the other side. He could not at all regret that the subject had been debated that night, for if a Gentleman of the standing and experience of the hon. and learned Gentleman was persuaded that the facts of the case were as he had stated them, he could well believe that the public in general must have formed a most extraordinary opinion of the conduct of the Indian Government in this country and in India, and it certainly would be most desirable that such an impression should not be allowed to prevail uncontradicted. He did not complain for a moment of the hon. Member for Gravesend bringing forward the question, and he did not complain of the tone in which he had spoken of himself (Sir Stafford Northcote), as there was no feeling further from his mind than the feeling that when there was any failure of justice in India it was not desirable that the facts should be brought before this 992 House; but it seemed extraordinary to him that a Gentleman of such distinguished Indian experience should have come to such a conclusion. If there was one thing that he placed before another, it was to show to the people of India that we were determined to do justice. It was very embarrassing to him to know tow to deal with the question, because there was such an immense mass of evidence with which, especially after the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India, it would be wrong to trouble the House. At the same time it would be difficult for him to say what he wished in his own justification and in that of successive Governments without referring to some extent to that evidence. He would begin, then, by putting aside those parts of the question with which he had not time deal, such as the competency of the Judicial Committee, as to which he would only say that, as a matter of convenience, this being a question not of law but of fact, he did not see how the Judicial Committee could deal with it in a satisfactory manner. Well, then, the case had taken place several years ago. The question at issue was not a question of law at all, but a question of fact. It turned upon the question whether the evidence of one set of witnesses was to be believed, many of whom were no longer to be found. The officer who conducted the principal inquiry was dead. It would be almost impossible to do more than take the Papers already before them, and form an opinion on those Papers after hearing the arguments that might be adduced. But the very gist of the case, as made by those who called for a rehearing, was that the evidence was worth little or nothing, because that evidence was not given in presence of the Nawab, and because he was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses. Still, it might be for some tribunals to say that this evidence was badly taken, and must be set aside; but it would not restore matters to the position in which they were when the examination took place. He would pass that by; as he would also the general question whether inquiries of this kind should continue to take place in India under the present system. That latter was a matter for the consideration of Government and of Parliament, for whom it was to determine whether some more systematic 993 mode of inquiry should take place in such cases. He would dwell mainly upon the question whether substantial justice had been done in this particular instance. And with regard to that, he would point out that there was in it nothing analogous to what was found in many other cases of alleged injustice to Indian Princes, in which the British Government were supposed to have been led astray by selfish interests. This was not a case in which the territories of the Nawab were confiscated for some alleged offence against British rule; but it was one in which the British Government, if misled at all, were misled as to what it was their duty to do for the general benefit of the country which was subject to Great Britain as the paramount Power in India. The hon. and learned Gentleman, among many other incorrect statements, spoke of the Nawab as a British subject. But he was not a British subject. The Nawab of Tonk was a Prince governing a territory of his own; but he did not stand entirely on the footing of an independent Sovereign—such as the Shah of Persia or the Emperor of China. The Nawab occupied a peculiar position; he was what was called a feudatory, or perhaps the better term was a mediatized, Prince; he held a position carved out for him by British power, and guaranteed to him by Great Britain. He was a stipendiary of the British Government, and received certain payments in respect of territory which was ceded, and in addition to that he was subject in certain ways to the authority of the British Government. He believed the Nawab had not the power of life and death in his own dominions, because in the case of capital sentences he was obliged to refer them for approval to the British Government. But though he was in this position he was not a British subject, because he was a Native Prince governing his own territories. It was a very grave question, therefore, how far we had a right to call him before any tribunal of our own and to try him. Our right of interference in Tonk was not a judicial one; and it was matter for argument whether we had any legal right to try this man as a culprit. We did not try him; we exercised our right as the paramount Power in India for the benefit of the country at large; and we interfered to 994 prevent the disturbance of the peace in this great district. Now, what was done? The Under Secretary for India had given them an account of what took place when he (Sir Stafford Northcote) was Secretary of State for India. Lord Lawrence, the Governor General, sent home a despatch, in which he gave the Home Government a distinct assurance that, having carefully examined the case, his Government were unanimously and decidedly of opinion that the Nawab was guilty of the conduct charged against him; and, further, that they were of opinion that sentence of deposition should be pronounced against him. Lord Lawrence proceeded to act upon the judgment of the Indian Government in deciding that sentence of deposition should be pronounced against the Nawab; but so anxious was Lord Lawrence to prevent any apparent collision between the Home and the Indian Governments, that he refrained from so doing till he received the opinion of the Secretary of State. He need hardly say that, under these circumstances, the examination of the Secretary of State and his Council was peculiar, anxious, and careful. They felt, indeed, that there was greater responsibility cast upon them than was usual in such cases; because, though the evidence was sent to them, still they could only judge of it from a distance. Having considered the matter most carefully, they came to the opinion—he believed unanimously—that the Government of India were right in their conclusion, and the Home Government came independently to the same conclusion. When the matter was revived by the Nawab under Lord Mayo's Government it was reconsidered by the Duke of Argyll, and the same conclusion was come to. Thus there was a considerable weight of authority in support of the view actually arrived at; and whether or not the inquiry was conducted technically in the most desirable manner, the opinions of many persons of impartiality and authority were that the decision was substantially a sound one. It was said that the inquiry was conducted without notice to the Nawab; that he was tried first; and that it was not until after the decision of the political officers that he was allowed to say anything in his own defence. If that were indeed the case, great injustice would have been committed, and those 995 who pronounced judgment would be worthy of the gravest censure. But that was not all that had been done, for the Nawab was communicated with from the first. He was perfectly aware of the charge made against him; he had every opportunity of making his own statement, and he did make it. Through his confidential adviser he availed himself of the opportunity of cross-examining witnesses, and produced other witnesses on his own side. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) would not go into an examination of the evidence then; but there was a line of evidence which the Nawab had furnished unconsciously against himself, for on August 2, 1867, the very day after this affair, he wrote to Colonel Eden, the Agent of the Governor General, telling him he was aware of the insubordinate and rebellious conduct of the chief of Lawa; that a further disturbance had been created; that it was advisable to acquaint Colonel Eden with the fact, in order that he might reprimand the Talookdar; that he had summoned him to Tonk; and that his uncle with 40 men had presented themselves, creating a disturbance and resorting to arms. Not a word was said in this letter about the death of anybody, and the story varied entirely from what had been written by the Nawab's Minister by the Nawab's orders, and what we knew had occurred. The Prime Minister of Tonk wrote letters to the chief of Lawa urging him to come to Tonk, not for the purpose of reprimanding him for ill-treating his people, but, on the contrary, to deal with a complaint made by the chief of Lawa against the Nawab, that land had been taken from him. The Minister informed the chief that the grant of the village would be given to him with a present, and that all differences would be adjusted. The chief replied, excusing himself. Thereupon a still more pressing letter was written, urging him to come; and the result was the occurrence which had led to the inquiry. The Nawab had, therefore, made a false statement upon the matter. Captain Roberts, the first person sent to Tonk, communicated with the Nawab. Captain Bruce also at once called on the Nawab, and told him that full inquiry must be made, or the world would believe that the Nawab was concerned in the matter; and yet the House was told 996 that the Nawab was not aware of the charge made against him. Captain Bruce stated that the depositions were taken in public, and it was, therefore, hard to say that the whole matter was conducted behind the back of the Nawab, some of the witnesses being actually examined in his presence. Was the Nawab to have been summoned to appear? We had no right to summon him. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) was not defending in every particular the precise form adopted in the inquiry. All he said was that substantial justice had been done; that means were afforded to everybody to tell their story; that the parties concerned availed themselves of those means; and after careful investigation the story told by the people of Lawa was believed. Was it desirable that, under such circumstances, the matter should be re-opened? This discussion, occupying, as it did, the whole of the evening, would show the people of India that there was no desire to smother the matter; but he denied that the cause of good government in India would be promoted by further inquiry. Now, a word as to the probabilities of the story. It was said that it was improbable that the Lawa chief should be summoned into the apartments of the women. Now, the fact was that the Prime Minister of Tonk, being charged with the duty of looking after the Dacoits, or robbers, had within the palace a force of some 800 or 900 armed men. If you went upon probabilities, was it probable that some 25 Lawa people should attack a Minister defended by 800 or 900 troops? The thing was absurd. The Lawa men had no firearms; some of them did not even wear swords. Again, how was it that on this very night a body of men were sent off with scaling ladders to attack the fort of Lawa, reaching Lawa before daybreak next morning? It was alleged that they were sent out in pursuit of fugitives. But they were infantry soldiers, and not, therefore, likely to overtake fugitives; they took scaling ladders with them, and would have taken four guns if the folly of doing so had not been pointed out to the Nawab. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) confessed that this point had weighed strongly with him in arriving, as he did, at the conclusion that the plot was on the side of Tonk, and not of Lawa. If that were so, and if successive Govern- 997 ments were right in their conclusion that a crime had been committed by the Nawab, he hoped the House would not think it desirable even to go to a division; not because he deprecated opinions adverse to the Indian Government, but because, if the House thought substantial justice had been done, it would be undesirable to agitate the native mind in India by the notion that the House was in doubt upon this subject. The position of England as the paramount Power in India, and her position towards these mediatized Princes, was a very delicate one, requiring great judgment and firmness as well as justice. We had duties to discharge, not only to the natives of those parts of India directly under our sway, but to the natives of States which were not under our sway; and it was the knowledge that we were able and willing to put down lawlessness among the native States which conduced so much to the peace and prosperity of India. By guaranteeing a Native Ruler in the possession of his dominions we engaged to support him against insurrection among his subjects, and against aggression from his neighbours; but we thereby accepted the responsibility of checking his excesses. If the offence were what it was said to be, the punishment was not too severe, and he trusted that the House—not sharing the sympathy expressed for a man whose case had certainly been put before the House with a good deal of colour—would act in the way which he believed would be for the good of India herself and the highest interests of the Empire.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
said, he took exception to the dictum of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India that the Judicial Committee would reject the appeal, for he agreed with those who held that this case ought not to be treated on technical grounds. But the question respecting the power of the Privy Council had in one important matter been misapprehended, for the case quoted by the Under Secretary was one of an attempted appeal by a convicted criminal without the consent of the Crown. The hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield), however, asked that the Queen should initiate this reference, and there was an obvious distinction between the case of two parties who agreed to arbitration, and an attempt of one to force a reference to 998 arbitration. The Motion was for an Address to the Crown to invoke the highest judicature not in the name of the Nawab, but in the name of the House of Commons; and it should be remembered that the Act of 1857 had imposed upon that Assembly in respect of India a greater responsibility than rested upon any legislative Assembly in the world. With respect to the statement that the case had already been fully decided, he would remind the House that the Earl of Derby, when sitting in the House of Commons, insisted on Lord Halifax reversing the decision in the case of Dhar, although it had been fortified by Governor General after Governor General, and Secretary of State after Secretary of State. As Lord Derby said, it was for the House, and not for any Administration, to decide what was just, and who should be judge, in such a case. As to the question of jurisdiction, he would ask whether such pleas as had been heard against dealing with this case would be entertained in any Court of the Realm? Either this man was their subject, and in that case he ought to have a fair trial, or he was not their subject, and then they were usurpers by virtue of their mere power. He was surprised at the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) talking of this man as a mediatized Prince. His character was simply this—that, his grandfather being a very troublesome man, Lord Hastings—no mean authority—who had great experience in civil affairs both in India and elsewhere, thought it a good act to root him in the ground—to give him territory and the means of ruling it. If we were to govern India—if we were to keep our pledged word—was it the part of a Minister of the Queen to come down to the House and divert its attention from a clear question of justice to a living man by telling a story about his grandfather, and, at the same time, further attempt to vilify his character by painting him as one of the same race of fanatics as the one who had basely assassinated the noble Lord the Governor General of India? He knew not with what justice that insinuation was made. The Attorney General would not in any Court of he Realm treat the commonest felon with such injustice. As to the murder which was said to have been committed, no man in the House had the slightest 999 knowledge whether the account given by the right hon. Gentleman was accurate or not. But what had that to do, in common sense and justice, with this question? Although he should have wished the Motion differently worded, he should certainly vote for it if the hon. Mover went to a division. If they could not refer this matter to the Privy Council, they could refer it to a Select Committee of that House, or to a Joint Committee of both Houses. A great principle of the law of this country was, that for every wrong there was a remedy, and they were not entitled to say there was no remedy for the great alleged wrong which the Nawab had suffered. He would make this appeal to the Government—they were about to send out to India a new Viceroy, and they could not do better than instruct him that in all questions of this kind the authority of that and the other House of Parliament was the highest Court of Appeal, and that they would see that justice was done in all cases.
said, he wished to put this matter upon a broad and noble issue—namely, the interests of Great Britain. His experience of India was not very recent or very extensive; but he saw enough of that country to know that what the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) said was true—that our tenure of power in India depended upon the substantial justice which we dealt out to the various nations under our sway in that country. Since he had had a seat in the House he had heard a great many Indian questions brought up, and when any question of justice to any official or Native Prince was brought up it had almost invariably been urged by the official Members on both sides of the House that it was a matter which involved confidence in a Governor General. The question was, not whether substantial justice had been already done, but whether any appeal lay from that measure of justice, such as it was, to the House of Commons and the Government of this country? No doubt the case had been decided according to the best information possessed by the officials at the India Office; but the Nawab appealed from them to the British nation and to the highest Court of Appeal, and it was no answer to him to say that the case could not be re-opened. The right 1000 hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon had said he would not balance evidence against evidence; but how had he followed up that assertion? Why, by picking out of the Blue Book anything that bore on his own side of the question, and omitting anything that told the other way. In old days, before the Indian Empire was entirely given up to the Crown, there were persons with some knowledge of the affairs of India who were able to secure attention to any real and tangible grievance. But, as the hon. Member for Brighton had said, the House of Commons rather shirked these Indian questions. The only satisfactory course, therefore, was to refer the matter to a judicial tribunal, and, in order to attain that result, he should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Gravesend.
§ MR. T. HUGHES
said, that if the Motion were pressed to a division, he also should be compelled to vote against the Government. In the position held by the Nawab of Tonk, as a Native Prince of India, the right hon. Baronet, the late Indian Secretary, seemed to think it was very doubtful whether we had any right to try him at all, or, at any rate, if we did try him, we were bound to do it regularly. Yet, we had confessedly tried him, not only in an irregular manner, but had administered the heaviest punishment in our power—taking away his kingdom, and putting his Prime Minister into prison for life. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India said this was a political procedure, and that the Nawab, not being a subject of the Queen, could not be subject to the jurisdiction of an English Court. He took as an illustration the case of the old feudatories, who were subject to their Lord's Courts, arguing, as he understood him, that as the Nawab was not technically subject to the jurisdiction of the Queen's Courts in India, he could not be tried at all. But the Nawab, though not a feudatory, was prepared to submit to the Lord's Court—he asked for such a trial as would be given to an Englishman, and as became an Indian Prince. The statement of the Solicitor General, that any Ministry would resign if the Queen were to ask the advice of the Privy Council upon a question which the Government were bound to determine on their own responsibility, struck him as being most ex- 1001 traordinary. It was an attempt to turn this Motion into a Vote of Want of Confidence, which was absurd. What the ex-Nawab of Tonk had asked was, that the case might be referred to the Judicial Committee, upon the evidence on which he had been deposed, in order that they might advise whether a proper and legal judgment had been given. To justify that application, three very distinguished lawyers—one of them the most distinguished English lawyer now living, the hon. and learned Member for Richmond—had given an opinion that this was a case which might be referred to the Privy Council. What good reason existed why that course should not be adopted? The injustice of keeping a man imprisoned for life, as the Prime Minister of this unfortunate Prince was at present, though he had never been convicted, was such as would never, he believed, be sanctioned by the House.
said, he would suggest to the Government a way out of the difficulty, which their own conduct had largely created. Some years ago a question arose as to the distribution of property of one of our feudatories in India. As a Prince, he was exempted from the jurisdiction of our Courts; a Commissioner was accordingly sent down by the Government for the purpose of investigating the rights of the parties, and he made a report as to the mode in which the property ought to be distributed. That report, however, was not deemed satisfactory by the parties, and many of them remonstrated very strongly, appealing in the end to the House of Commons. The House entertained the question; and though he could not say that a decision adverse to the Government was arrived at, yet so strong was the feeling manifested that the Government, for the sake of their own character and to get rid of the clamour which had been raised, consented to refer the matter to the Privy Council. There the matter was fully argued, and the decision of the Government was, he believed, confirmed. Yet from that day remonstrance ceased, and the controversy was at an end. He believed the Government would act wisely in consenting to a similar reference in the present case. The Judicial Committee, not being a Court of Original Jurisdiction, could take no further reference. If, therefore, on the materials laid before it, it decided that the Go- 1002 vernment were right, no harm would have been done, and, if otherwise, then it would be plainly just that the decision should be revised. The Government might with advantage consider whether in these cases this mode of reference should not be adopted.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, he understood from the speech of the Under Secretary that the Native Princes of India, like the unfortunate Nawab of Tonk, had no right of appeal from the decision of the Government. It was by way of protest against that doctrine that he should vote for the Motion. We were apparently dealing with these Princes much in the same way as we dealt with them 100 years ago, though the circumstances had entirely changed, especially as regarded means of communication and education. It was desirable that the House should let these Princes know that justice should be done them, and that if the original judgment was wrong there should be a right of appeal. They had not to decide on the guilt or innocence of the Nawab; but only to pronounce an opinion that there was an appeal to this country. What form the appeal should take he would not discuss—there being high authorities on both sides as regarded the Judicial Committee—but there ought certainly to be a tribunal of some kind in these cases.
§ MR. BRISTOWE
said, he could come to no other conclusion, from a perusal of the Papers, than that the decision of the Government was correct. It had been assumed by the hon. Gentleman who proposed the Resolution, that the authorities decided simply on the report of the political agents. The materials, however, on which that report was based accompanied the report. It was natural to suppose that this being the first case of the kind since the abolition of the East India Company's Government, it had been decided with the utmost care. For instance, how could anyone suppose that when the Nawab had been sending repeated messages asking the chief to visit him, the fate of these unfortunate persons was a mere accident? It would be a dangerous precedent to refer the decision of the Government not in a civil but in a political investigation to the Judicial Committee.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he believed the question 1003 would be none the worse for being restated from a common-sense point of view. The fact was, that this country undertook to keep the peace throughout India; but in India there were no Legislative Assemblies, no Ministries to turn out, and no possibility of expressing popular discontent and dissatisfaction, except by means of the insurrection of the people against their Kings and dethroning them. That was what this country prevented by its armed supremacy, and although they did a great good to India, inasmuch as they kept the peace and prevented a great number of barbarous outrages, there was no doubt that they might also do much evil by perpetuating an abominable and terrible tyranny, because they prevented that force which was the only remedy of an Oriental people when they were tormented beyond what they could bear. This necessarily threw upon the Government the duty of moderating any oppression or tyranny, and seeing that it did not become intolerable. They had abandoned the policy of annexation that used to be followed, and they no longer sought to increase their dominions at the expense of the Indian chiefs. But they had not abandoned—and he trusted that they would not abandon—the duty that was cast upon them by the peculiarity of their situation, of taking care that no intolerable oppression or cruelty should be perpetrated in dominions which, if they were not technically belonging to the English Government, were yet so much under their sway and control, that they were really responsible for anything extraordinary cruel or wicked that might happen there. In the exercise of that duty they might justly and properly remove from the Throne, which was unworthily occupied, the Prince who had been guilty of any extraordinary cruelty, oppression, or wickedness. But this country ought not to profit by that circumstance. The Government ought to place some one else of the family upon the Throne, so that its proceedings should be free even from the suspicion of being actuated by any selfish or interested motives. These seemed to him to be the principles upon which their situation in India forced them to act. That being so, let them examine this case. Here was a Native Prince who, it was said, on the one side, had enticed into his power a number of persons towards 1004 whom he was ill-disposed, and murdered them all. On the other side it was said, that these persons came with hostile intentions against him, and that he was so fortunate as not only to repel, but to kill all those who had intended to surprise him. This was a conflict of evidence. Hon. Gentlemen had expressed strong opinions on the subject; it was no part of his argument to express any opinion at all. He would assume, by way of argument, that any person reading the Papers would find it difficult to decide one way or the other; and the next thing to look to was authority. Well, the matter had been decided by two Governor Generals and their Councils without a dissentient voice. It had also been brought home to England and decided by two successive Secretaries of State, with the assistance of their Indian Council, also without dissent. According to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) we ought to have tried the Nawab, if he was our subject, and if he was not, to have left him alone; but though not our subject, his power depended so much upon us that we could not evade the responsibility for its exercise. It, therefore, became our duty to inquire, and if satisfied that he was unworthy of his position, to prevent his doing further mischief. As to not giving him notice, and other matters of detail, it should be remembered that the question at issue was not so much his criminality as the welfare of the people, and whether it was for their benefit that he should retain his authority. The inquiry was, consequently, not judicial, but political. This was no exaggerated statement of the case. It would be a monstrous proposition to say that no appeal lay to this House or to the Government of this country for offences committed in India, and it would have been a reproach to English justice if 80 years ago the House of Commons had not entertained the charges against Warren Hastings; but while he said that, and admitted that an appeal did lie to this House for any grievance, he asserted fearlessly that it did not follow because this House might entertain an appeal that it was bound to do so. The question whether it should do so depended upon many considerations, and upon none more than this—that it ought never to entertain an appeal of this kind, unless it thought it had a 1005 better chance of coming to a right conclusion than those from whom the appeal was made. Unless hon. Members thought they were in a position to judge better on this subject than the Governor General and his Council, who were on the spot, they were not justified in entertaining it, because the probability was they would not do justice. That was a conclusive answer to the suggestion that they should refer the matter to a Select Committee. What could the Members of it do? They could read over the documents and come to their own conclusions, doubtless with intelligence and perfect honesty; but, when they had done that, would their opinion, that of persons without a practical knowledge of India and of its affairs, be as valuable and weighty as that of the Governor General in Council? The strangest course proposed was that, this being not a judicial but a political matter, it should be referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. That ordinarily dealt with matters of law, though he did not mean to say nothing else could be referred to it; but it was a Court composed of men eminent in the law, and for nothing else in particular, and it was utterly unreasonable to refer to this tribunal a case of this kind. It was a pure issue of fact as to who was the aggressor, and that was to be decided on native evidence. Hon. Members talked of examining witnesses on oath; but in India they laughed at an oath. This was a question of fact as to what happened in a remote part of India; it was investigated on the spot, and an opinion formed on it by Indian officials who were impartial, who had a thorough knowledge of the habits of the people and of the condition of the country; it had been re-investigated by the highest Court in India for political matters; and was the House to say that the Judicial Committee, which had no knowledge of India, was a tribunal to which it should be referred, when there was no legal issue in it, while its consideration required a thorough knowledge of the habits of the people of India? The House would stultify itself if it adopted such a course. No doubt Her Majesty could refer the case to the Judicial Committee; but the question was whether she ought to do so, and that depended entirely on whether the Judicial Committee would on such a subject, on a question 1006 of fact, be likely to form a better opinion, and to come to a truer conclusion than had been come to already by the two Governor Generals and many experienced and able persons who had already tried the question. Unless they were prepared to affirm that, and to say that a mere knowledge of English law implied an intuitive faculty for sifting such matters of fact, it was clear that it would be mockery to refer this case to the Judicial Committee. It had been said that the worst thing they risked by referring the question to the Judicial Committee would be that no great light might be thrown upon it; but there was a worse aspect than that. The whole force and strength of our Government in India consisted in the respect and veneration in which the head of the Government there was held. The people of India looked upon the Governor General as a sort of divinity upon earth. If that mighty Potentate was to be judged, not by principles of political expediency, but by the narrow and technical rules of a judicial tribunal, in what estimation would he be held? Everything which galled a Native Prince would be made the subject of an appeal. It would be ridiculous to attempt to govern India, not on the rules of enlightened policy and experience, but upon the narrow and technical rules of English law which the country never heard of. No graver mistake or more melancholy error could be made not only as regarded the justice of this case, but also as regarded the future of India. For these reasons, he hoped the Motion would not be carried.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 120; Noes 84: Majority 36.