The law is for man, not man for the law

Edited excerpts from the statement made by Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt before the Lahore High Court in 1929

Photo by Manoj Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Manoj Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH National Bureau

The point to be considered is that the two bombs we threw in the Assembly did not harm anybody physically or economically. As such the punishment awarded to us is not only very harsh but revengeful also.

No one can do justice to anybody without taking his motive into consideration. If we ignore the motive, the biggest generals of the world will appear like ordinary murderers; revenue officers will look like thieves and cheats. Even judges will be accused of murder. If we ignore the motive, the government will have no right to expect sacrifice from its people and its officials.

Ignore the motive and every religious preacher will be dubbed as a preacher of falsehoods, and every prophet will be charged of misguiding crores of simple and ignorant people. If we set aside the motive, then Jesus Christ will appear to be a man responsible for creating disturbances, breaking peace and preaching revolt, and will be considered to be a “dangerous personality” in the language of the law. But we worship him. He commands great respect in our hearts and his image creates vibrations of spiritualism amongst us. Why?

Because the inspiration behind his actions was that of a high ideal. The rulers of that age could not recognise that high idealism. They only saw his outward actions. Nineteen centuries have passed since then. Have we not progressed during this period? Shall we repeat that mistake again?

From the legal point of view also, the question of motive is of special importance. Take the example of General Dyer. He resorted to firing and killed hundreds of innocent and unarmed people. But the military court did not order him to be shot. It gave him lakhs of rupees as award.

This principle (that the law does not take motive into consideration) is quite absurd. This is against the basic principles of the law which declares that “the law is for man and not man for the law”. Are we being deprived of the ordinary advantage of the law because our offence is against the government, or because our action has a political importance?

Mixing arsenic in flour will not be considered a crime provided its purpose is to kill rats. But if the purpose is to kill a man, it becomes a crime of murder.

The facts regarding our case are very simple. We threw two bombs in the legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929. As a result of the explosion, a few persons received minor scratches.

There was pandemonium in the chamber, hundreds of visitors and members of the Assembly ran out. Only my friend BK Dutt and myself remained seated in the visitors’ gallery and offered ourselves for arrest. We were tried for attempt to murder, and convicted for life.

We offered ourselves for arrest without any resistance. The Sessions Judge admitted that we could have very easily escaped, had we any such intention. We accepted our offence and gave a statement explaining our position. We are not afraid of punishment. But we do not want that we should be wrongly understood. The judge removed a few paragraphs from our statement. This we consider to be harmful for our real position.

A proper study of the full text of our statement will make it clear that, according to us, our country is passing through a delicate phase.

We saw the coming catastrophe and thought it proper to give a timely warning with a loud voice, and we gave the warning in the manner we thought proper.

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