HC Deb 28 February 1887 vol 311 cc695-7
MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether the Government of Madras is now making inquiries and collecting evidence with the view to re-open the Chingleput Case, which, five years since, created great excitement; whether a detective officer has for some months been specially employed to work up the case; whether the Collector of Chingleput, in 1882, obtained the sanction of Government to prosecute certain villagers for complaining against a magistrate; whether these villagers were sentenced to imprisonment for so complaining; whether an aged member of their number died in confinement; whether they and numerous witnesses were made to travel over the district for weeks together, with the camps of the Collector and Sub-Collector; whether, at last, the Native community throughout Southern India combined, subscribed large sums of money, and exposed the true character of the magistrate complained of; whether he then absconded, and deserted his post; whether he was subsequently brought to trial, convicted of stealing and making away with official records, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment; whether the Government then appealed against this sentence of the Mofussil Court; whether the High Court upheld the conviction; whether the Collector adopted the unusual course of bringing forward fresh evidence, and inducing Government to appeal a second time; whether the High Court refused to admit the relevancy of any of this fresh evidence, and again confirmed the conviction; whether the Collector urged on the Government the unusual course of over-ruling the adverse decisions of the Courts of Justice; whether the magistrate was released by a strained exercise of the Governor's prerogative; and, whether the Collector is now acting Secretary to the Government of Madras, Revenue Department?


The case referred to began in May, 1881. Certain ryots of the Chingleput District charged the Tasildar, who is a subordinate Native revenue official, with extortion. A variety of criminal proceedings took place; but as the records of trials in India are not sent to the India Office it is impossible to answer the Questions categorically. Some of the complainants appear to have been convicted of perjury, and the Tasildar himself of stealing and making away with official records. The Tasildar appealed twice to the Madras High Court. On the first occasion the sentence was reduced from two to one year's rigorous imprisonment. The High Court had no jurisdiction to entertain a second appeal; but on May 31, 1883, the Madras Government made an Order, stating that— The Governor in Council, after considering the further opinions expressed by the Judges of the High Court in this peculiar case, has come to the conclusion that it will be most consistent with justice to give the accused the benefit of the doubt raised by the subsequent evidence, and he is accordingly pleased under Section 401, Code of Criminal Procedure, to remit the remainder of the sentence. Mr. Price, now Acting Secretary to the Madras Government, was Collector of Chingleput between 1878 and 1884. The Secretary of State is not aware of any intention on the part of the Government of Madras to re-open this case.