HC Deb 07 May 1894 vol 24 cc458-9
MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that in an action for defamation brought before a British Court by Mehdi Hassan, the Home Secretary of the Hyderabad State, against the alleged printer of an anonymous pamphlet assailing the character of his English wife, the Court, by an error of procedure, allowed evidence to be led in support of the plea of justification, before deciding the preliminary question as to the publication of the pamphlet by the accused; and that the case was eventually dismissed, on the technical ground of non-proof of publication, without any finding as to the truth of the evidence in support of the plea of justification; whether he is aware that Mehdi Hassan was first suspended from his post as Home Secretary while the case was sub judice, and then dismissed therefrom without reason assigned, after his case had been decided; whether he is aware that Mehdi Hassan, who is a Civil servant of the Government of India lent to the Hyderabad State, has applied to be re-employed by the Indian Government under the ordinary Civil Service Rules, and that the Government of India have refused his application on account of the nature of the evidence given at the trial of the action in question, and of the circumstances under which his employment in Hyderabad terminated; and that he has been ordered to send in his resignation within two months from 31st March last on pain of dismissal; whether there is any precedent for thus dismissing an Indian Civil servant on the ground of evidence which had been admitted in error by a Court of Law, and the truth of which had consequently not been tested or established by any judicial finding; and whether he will inquire into this matter, and take steps to secure that no injustice is done to Mehdi Hassan?


(1) I am aware that the action for defamation referred to in the question was dismissed on technical grounds, without any finding on the plea of justification, but I am not aware that there was any error of procedure; (2) Mehdi Hassan was suspended from his office by order of the Nizam on the 21st of October, 1892, and the reasons for such suspension were published in The Hyderabad Gazette. (3) (4) I have received no information as to any application by Mehdi Hassan for re-employment in the British service. The whole subject, having been brought before my predecessor, Lord Kimberley, by the hon. Member, was carefully considered by him, and referred to the Government of India, who have reported upon it. Lord Kimberley offered to lay Papers before the House if the hon. Member would move for them, and that offer, which has since been repeated by myself, is still open if the hon. Member desires to avail himself of it.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will inquire with regard to the specific matters raised in paragraphs 3 and 4, which have taken place since the matter was referred to Lord Kimberley—namely, the application for re-employment and the grounds stated for its refusal?


I have no objection to inquire into the matter.