HC Deb 31 March 1914 vol 60 cc999-1001

asked the Under-Secretary for India whether the attention of the Secretary of State for India has been drawn to the conduct of Mr. Oakden, superintendent of district Debra Dun, and as such district magistrate of Mussoorie, in transferring from the hearing and adjudication of Mr. Hoare, deputy magistrate of Mussoorie, to the hearing and adjudication of Mr. Grant, assistant magistrate of Debra, the case of Hearsey v. Forster, in which a criminal breach of trust was alleged, when no application for such transfer was made by the parties, and after Mr. Hoare had recorded some evidence and expressed his intention to frame a charge; whether such transfer was made by Mr. Oakden on the informal complaint of one of the witnesses in the case, a Mr. Priestley, manager of the Mussoorie branch of the Alliance Bank of Simla, where the accused kept his floating and loan accounts, and to whom Mr. Hoare had issued an order to allow such accounts to be inspected by the prosecution; whether, notwithstanding that there is no provision in the Indian criminal procedure code investing district magistrates with revisional or corrective jurisdiction in cases which are being tried by deputy magistrates, Mr. Oakden, on the strength of Mr. Priestley's communication and without giving the prosecution any hearing in the matter, called upon Mr. Hoare, who is a first-class magistrate, for an explanation of his conduct of the case, and incidentally quashing Mr. Hoare's order for inspection, transferred the case as stated above; whether he is aware that in his explanatory letter to Mr. Oakden, Mr. Hoare charges Mr. Priestley with having on three or four occasions after the institution of the case attempted to influence Mr. Hoare in favour of the accused, and that, although this circumstance along with the other facts of the case were made the subject of a representation by the counsel for the prosecution to the legal remembrancer to the Government of the united provinces of Agra and Oudh, no remedial action was taken by the officer in question or by the judicial secretary to the local Government; and will the Secretary of State for India direct that copies of this representation and the papers referred to therein be forwarded to the India Office, and state whether any action will be taken by him to prevent a repetition of the abuses complained of, and in particular what action it is proposed to take to prevent Europeans holding influential positions in India from endeavouring to influence magistrates in favour of parties in cases which are being tried by such magistrates?


On a point of Order. May I ask if there is any space limit for questions put on the Paper?


In explanation of that question may I explain that the details were very numerous and to the very best of my ability and with the assistance of the clerk I reduced them.


If we have very many questions of this kind I think we shall have to introduce some regulation. But this is an exceptional case.


If the objection is pressed I must decline to put the question. I could not summarise it in briefer form.


I have said this is an exceptional case.


I have not heard of the case. If the hon. Member will supply me with the evidence on which he bases his suggestions, the Secretary of State will consider the matter.