HC Deb 17 June 1913 vol 54 cc186-7

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to a case tried at Rangoon before the second additional magistrate on 16th April, in which a woman named Ma Lay, who told the Court that she had four children to support and had been in bad health for some time past, was sentenced to eight months' rigorous imprisonment and a month's solitary confinement on a charge of petty theft; and whether, in view of the harshness of a sentence of solitary confinement under the existing conditions of prisons in Burma, and of the increasing frequency of such sentences in the Burmese Courts, he will cause inquiries to be made into this case?


I have seen only newspaper reports, from which it appears that the sentence was given for a second offence of theft from a building. Under the Indian Penal Code this offence, which is distinguished from petty theft, may be punished by seven years' rigorous imprisonment and by fine. There are Courts of Appeal which are competent to correct sentences passed by magistrates. The Secretary of State sees no reason for special inquiry.


Is my hon. Friend aware that the practice of giving these sentences of solitary confinement is increasing in Burma, and that under the conditions in Burmese prisons a sentence of solitary confinement is very like a sentence of physical torture, and that a woman of this sort finds it very difficult to appeal to the Superior Court?


I am not aware of those facts, but I might respectfully point out to the hon. Member that the object which he desires to achieve is achieved by putting questions of this kind.

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