HC Deb 15 April 1943 vol 388 cc1366-7
24. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for India whether the death sentence on the four Kayyur peasants has been carried out; whether he gave advice on this matter to His Majesty's Governor-General; and what knowledge he has of representations for clemency made by Indian public men and organisations?

Mr. Amery

The death sentences were carried out on 29th March. I have given no advice in the matter to the Governor-General, to whom the exercise of the prerogative of mercy has been expressly delegated by His Majesty. I have received no report of representations made by Indian public men or organisations, but I have no doubt that any such representations were fully considered by the responsible authorities in India.

Mr. Sorensen

While one does not in any way condone acts of violence, does the right hon. Gentleman not appreciate that the execution of these four peasants is a moral and political blunder of tragic magnitude? Will he inquire of the Viceroy what representations were made in India, and why clemency was not exercised?

Mr. Amery

No, Sir. The matter was primarily one for the courts, and then for the Privy Council, to whom a special right of appeal was transmitted. The appeal was then rejected. When the appeal was rejected the prisoners had the right to appeal to the Governor-General for mercy, and no execution could take place before the Governor-General, in the exercise of the authority expressly delegated to him, considered that mercy should not be extended.

Mr. A. Hopkinson

What crime had these people committed?

Mr. Amery

Stoning a policeman to death and drowning him while he was in the water.

Mr. S. O. Davies

Was there any specific evidence tendered against these four men who have been hanged, proving that they themselves had been party to the stoning?

Mr. Amery

I hardly expect that the hon. Member suggests that the judge who tried the case and the judge in the appeal acted without specific evidence.

Mr. Davies

The judge admitted that there was no evidence against these four men.