HC Deb 26 February 1934 vol 286 cc736-8
10 and 11. Mr. DAVID GRENFELL

asked the Secretary of State for India (1) whether he will state the main provisions of the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 1934; and whether it is proposed to extend the death penalty to offences which have not resulted in injury or death to any person;

(2) The offences for which the death penalty is proposed in the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 1934?


The main provisions of the Bill introduced in the Bengal Legislative Council are summarised in the Statement of Objects and Reasons which I am circulating. The Bill provides that the death sentence or any lesser sentence may be passed on a terrorist convicted of manufacturing, importing, selling or possessing a firearm without licence, under circumstances indicating that he intended to use the weapon, or knew it was likely to be used, for a murderous purpose. The same penalties apply to a terrorist convicted of causing, or attempting to cause, an explosion likely to endanger life or to cause serious injury to property, or of possessing explosives in certain circumstances. Only Commissioners appointed to try terrorist offenders under the provisions of the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act will have power to impose the death sentence in these cases.


Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the trials before the Commissioner gave adequate opportunities of defence to any accused person?


Yes, certainly, and I would remind the hon. Gentleman that every death sentence has to be reviewed by the High Court.

Following is the statement:

The Bill seeks to supplement the existing criminal law so as to enable the Local Government to grapple more effectively with the terrorist movement. Some of the clauses are of a deterrent nature, but most are preventive and are the outcome of an endeavour to prevent the recruiting of young persons to the movement and to enlist the assistance of parents and guardians in saving those for whom they are responsible from being debauched by the terrorist groups.

2. It is proposed to provide the penalty of death for certain offences under the Indian Arms Act, 1878, and the Explosive Substances Act, 1908; to make certain additions to the cases in which security can be demanded and the security or press can be declared forfeited under the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, to prohibit the publication of information notified by the Local Government as tending to create an atmosphere favourable to recruitment to the terrorist movement; to make the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1925, and the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1930, permanent; to make provision for the dictation of evidence by Commissioners appointed under the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1925, and Special Magistrates under the Bengal Suppression of Terrorist Outrages Act, 1932; to shorten the procedure in trials before Special Tribunals where absconders who might have been tried jointly with others are apprehended during the process of a trial or after its conclusion; to empower District Magistrates to restrain the movements of persons under the age of 21 years found consorting with terrorist suspects; to penalise the possession of certain classes of literature; and to empower District Magistrates to restrict the activities of associations which encourage the commission of crimes of violence or intimidation.