asked the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to the statement in the Indian Press that the sentence of a year's rigorous imprisonment, with a fine of 145 rupees, under the Indian Penal Code, inflicted on Lala Lajpat Rai on 8th January, has been remitted altogether by the Punjab Government, and that the latter have announced their intention of taking steps to examine the legality of the further sentence of six months' detention, with a fine of 500 rupees, passed on Lala Lajpat Rai under the Seditious Meetings Act on the same date; and what justification has been shown for this interference with the law of the land?
The sentence under the Indian Penal Code was one of imprisonment only, under Section 145 of the Code. No fine was imposed. That sentence was remitted by the Punjab Government because it considered that in effect the offence for which it was passed was indistinguishable from the offence under the Seditious Meetings Act. One conviction was for holding a prohibited meeting, and the other for continuing to hold it after the order had been given for it to disperse. Two punishments for one offence were not justified. The sentence under the Seditious Meetings Act was afterwards remitted by the same Government, because on the facts being examined by the legal advisers of the Government of India, they were of opinion that the meeting could not be called a public meeting. Lala Lajpat Rai was therefore released; but he was re-arrested on a charge under Section 17 of Act No. XIV of 1908, to the effect that, as president of the provincial Congress Committee, he had signed a manifesto published in the Lahore papers inviting persons to enrol themselves in the National Volunteers Association, which had been proclaimed an unlawful association.