HC Deb 01 July 1909 vol 7 cc590-1

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to a recent case of conviction and sentence to 12 stripes for the theft of a flower plucked in the Alfred Park at Allahabad; whether he is aware that the sentence has been stayed pending a reference to the High Court; that it was passed by a young magistrate of only 18 months' service in India; and whether, in view of the facts of the ease, the Government will reconsider the advisability of vesting officers of so little experience with powers under the Whipping Act?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (the Master of Elibank)

The Secretary of State has seen newspaper comments on the case referred to; he has seen no report of the case, but he will inquire. By law, sentences of whipping can be passed only by a magistrate of the first class; and first-class powers are not conferred upon a magistrate until he has passed all his departmental examinations and has been reported fit to exercise such powers by his superior officers. The Secretary of State does not think it necessary to propose any alteration of the law on this subject.


May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman thinks it desirable that a magistrate with only eighteen months' service should have the power of passing such a sentence?

Mr. J. D. REES

May I ask whether the practice which the hon. Member for East Nottingham has condemned is one that has obtained for many decades in India in the service of which he spent his life?


also asked the Under-Secretary for India whether his attention has been called to a recent case in Calcutta in which a Bengali offender, when sentenced, was offered a choice of imprisonment or whipping, and chose the latter; and whether, in view of recent restrictions placed by recent legislation in India upon resort to this punishment, he will consider the advisability of making representations to the Governor-General in Council on the subject?


The Secretary of State is not aware of the case referred to in the question. He does not propose to make any representations to the Governor-General in Council on the subject.