§ 1. Mr. T. WILLIAMS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he will inquire into the case of an ex-minister in the Punjab who was sentenced by the High Court of that Province to imprisonment for an indefinite period for alleged contempt of court; whether such sentences are frequent under the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act; and what is the usual term of imprisonment in such cases?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
Lala Harkishen Lal was sentenced by a Division Bench of the Lahore High Court on 6th December, 1935, under the powers conferred by the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926, to two months simple imprisonment for disobeying an order of a subordinate Court. He was at the same time sentenced for disobeying an order of the High Court itself to remain in gaol until he apologised and paid into Court money taken by him contrary to the order of that Court. This further sentence was in that respect indefinite, but was passed by the High Court in exercise of its own inherent powers, and not under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926. The sentence was later converted by the High Court into a definite one expiring on 15th November last. Cases of the kind are infrequent and the sentences depend on the view taken by the Court in each instance.
§ Mr. BUTLER
As I stated in my original answer, these powers are inherent in the constitution of the High Court.
§ 2. Mr. T. WILLIAMS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether any order was made by the High Court of Lahore when Lala Harkishen Lal was sentenced to imprisonment in respect of the class in which he should be placed in gaol; and whether this matter was left to the discretion of the gaol superintendent or whether subsequent instructions were given to the gaol superintendent?
§ Mr. BUTLER
On 1st November, 1935, Lala Harkishen Lal was sentenced to a term of one month's imprisonment and. the High Court Committal Order directed, his classification as a. Class A prisoner. When he was again imprisoned on 6th December, the gaol authorities placed him in classs A pending a direction from the High Court. This classification was subsequently confirmed by the chief Justice of the High Court and the local Government.