HC Deb 07 June 1883 vol 279 cc1900-1

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether it is true, as reported in the "Times of India" of May 11th, that Mr. Justice Kernan, of the Madras High Court, lately sentenced two men to penal servitude for life, the one for stealing "a quantity of brinjals and two bundles of plantains valued, at two rupees," the other for stealing a cloth valued at sixteen rupees. (It is stated that on the following morning the Judge "commuted the sentence on the first prisoner to six years' rigorous imprisonment in consideration of his advanced age);" and, if he will inquire whether the Madras Government has given its sanction to these sentences?


Sir, I have seen the report in The Times of India referred to. It relates to two separate cases, the details of which appeared in other Indian papers, and are as follows:—The old man, whose sentence was reduced to six years, had been convicted four times previously. The Judge thought the case one for transportation—not for imprisonment; and, not having power to pass sentence of transportation for anything less than life, he sentenced him for life, saying, at the same time, that he would recommend Government to reduce the period. The other prisoner, who was convicted, not of stealing a gold laced cloth, but of receiving it knowing it to have been stolen, had also previously been convicted four times. On the last occasion, in 1878, the Judge, in passing sentence of five years' imprisonment, which only expired last February, warned him that if again convicted he would be transported for life. There is no reason why special inquiry should be made into these cases.