Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

He could not be of any help to me as i was not

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He could not be of any help to me, as I was not defending myself, and I begged him to go back to Allahabad and not to worry. He returned, but he left a young lawyer colleague of ours, Kapil Dev Malaviya, in Nabha to watch the proceedings. Kapil Dev's knowledge of law and procedure must have been considerably augmented by his brief experience of the Nabha courts. The police tried to deprive him forcibly in open court of some papers that he had. Most of the Indian states are well known for their backwardness and their semifeudal conditions. They are personal autocracies, devoid even of competence or benevolence. Many a strange thing occurs there which never receives publicity. And yet their very inefficiency lessens the evil in some ways and lightens the burden on their unhappy people. For this is reflected in a weak executive, and it results in mak ing even tyranny and injustice inefficient. That does not make tyranny more bearable, but it does make it less far-reaching and widespread. The assumption of direct British control over an Indian state has a curious result in changing this equilibrium. The semifeudal conditions are retained, autocracy is kept, the old laws and procedure are still supposed to function, all the restrictions on personal liberty and asso ciation and expression of opinion (and these are all-embracing) con tinue, but one change is made which alters the whole background. The executive becomes stronger, while a measure of efficiency is intro duced, and this leads to a tightening-up of all the feudal and autocratic bonds. In course of time the British administration would no doubt change some of the archaic customs and methods, for they come in the way of efficient government as well as commercial penetration. But to begin with they take full advantage of them to tighten their hold on the people, who have now to put up not only with feudalism and autocracy, but with an efficient enforcement of them by a strong executive. I saw something of this in Nabha. The state was under a British Administrator, a member of the Indian Civil Service, and he had the full powers of an autocrat, subject only to the Government of India. 101
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And yet at every turn we were referred to Nabha laws and procedure to justify the denial of the most ordinary rights. We had to face a combination of feudalism and the modern bureaucratic machine with the disadvantages of both and the advantages of neither. So our trial was over and we had been sentenced. We did not know what the judgments contained, but the solid fact of a long sentence had a sobering effect. We asked for copies of the judgments, and were told to apply formally for them. That evening in jail the superintendent sent for us and showed us an order of the Administrator under the Criminal Procedure Code suspending our sentences.
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