HC Deb 01 July 1880 vol 253 cc1246-7

asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether, considering the contemplated abolition of flogging in Her Majesty's Naval and Military Services, the Government will take any and what measures to abolish punishment by the lash or bamboo amongst Her Majesty's Indian subjects?


In answer to the Question the hon. and learned Member gave Notice of the other day, and which does not appear on the Paper, I may state that I have made inquiries, and find that corporal punishments in India are inflicted under different regulations from those which have been hitherto in force in regard to the Army and Navy. As far as I am able to ascertain, the punishment is usually inflicted, not with a "cat-o'-nine-tails," but with, a light cane; certainly in all cases of juvenile offenders that is so, and even when the punishment is inflicted on adults it is of a mild description. So much in answer to the general question of the hon. and learned Member. I may say that the experiment of discontinuing the punishment was tried on several occasions, both partially and in the whole of India. From 1862 to 1864 the punishment was not inflicted. During that time complaints were made by all the Local Governments of the difficulty experienced in the interval. It has not been, therefore, continued or adopted by the Government of India without full consideration. Among the considerations which have rendered it necessary was the difficulty of inflicting any suitable punishment in a tropical climate. Imprisonment and solitary or separate confinement were to be avoided as far as possible, owing to the mortality which occurred being very high in crowded gaols, among prisoners who had been accustomed to spend almost their whole lives in the open air. It would be impossible to take any hasty or precipitate step in this matter. All I can undertake to do is to call for full Reports from the Government of India and the local Governments as to the circumstances in which the punishment is inflicted, and the necessity that now exists for maintaining it. I will further ask them for any suggestions they may have to make as to its modification or possible discontinuance.