§ MR. O'DONNELL
asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether it is a fact that, at the trial of the prisoners accused of rioting at Salem, which ended in the infliction of sentences of penal servitude for long terms of years, both the native assessors of the presiding Judge declared that the evidence was insufficient to convict the prisoners; 1918 and, if the presiding Judge was alone in his judgment of guilty?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
It appears from the reports in the Indian newspapers—from which alone I have any information on the subject—that it is a fact that at the trial referred to, the two Native assessors declared the evidence insufficient to convict the prisoners. As there was but one Judge, there can be no doubt that he was alone in his judgment of "guilty." The cases were tried in the usual way by the Sessions Judge with the aid of two assessors. The assessors are not jurors, nor are their duties those of a jury. By law it is expressly enacted in the Criminal Procedure Code, and has for many years been the recognized practice, that the opinion of each assessor is to be given orally, and recorded in writing by the Court; but the decision is vested exclusively in the Judge; and the law directs that the Judge shall proceed to pass judgment of acquittal or conviction "having considered the opinions of the assessors, but not being bound to conform to them."
§ MR. O'DONNELL
asked the noble Marquess if he would take care that the opinions of the assessors in future should be submitted to the Judges of the Supreme Court before the ratification of the sentences upon Hindoo prisoners?