HC Deb 29 April 1929 vol 227 cc1276-7

asked the Undersecretary of State for India what are the special qualifications of Mr. Milner White, who has been appointed to conduct the trial of the 31 Meerut prisoners on a charge of waging war against the King; and, seeing that out of the 31 arrested persons 13 have been residents and arrested in Bombay, and nine in Calcutta, and only one in Meerut, what are the reasons for the Government to refuse trial by jury in Bombay or Calcutta?


As regards the first part of the question, I have no official information, but I have seen in the Press a statement that Mr. Milner White has been appointed to conduct the magisterial inquiry in connection with the conspiracy case. Mr. Milner White is an experienced officer of the Indian Civil Service, of over 18 years' service, who holds the position of magistrate and collector of Muzaffarnagar in the Meerut division. As regards the second part, it was for the Government of India to choose the place of trial, subject to the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.


Will the Noble Lord look at my question? We do not question the authority of the Government of India to choose Meerut; we only want to know why Meerut has been chosen, and why these people are denied trial by jury at their place of birth and residence?


I have already explained, in reply to a former question, that the reason for holding the trial at Meerut will emerge in the course of the proceedings which will take place there. Meerut is central, and is mentioned in the indictment as one of the many places where alleged offences occurred. With regard to the question of trial by jury, under Section 121A of the Indian Penal Code, it might be said that trial by jury is not normal, but rather that it is exceptional.