Whipping Penalty

Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 10th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of widespread criticism of the Whipping Order issued in India; whether he will publish the terms of this Order; and whether he will either have the Order withdrawn or have its application restricted only to such acts as involves the penalty of whipping when committed in this country?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

In India the penalty of whipping, or rather caning—it is administered by a light rattan cane, and not by the "cat"—has long been authorised, as in this country, for such crimes as robbery with violence. Nine years ago, during serious communal disorders in Bombay, its use was extended by that Province to the offence of rioting, and early this year the Penalties (Enhancement) Ordinance issued as an emergency measure by the Governor-General enabled any Province to adopt whipping as a penalty for rioting and crimes of bodily violence, arson or sabotage. A copy of the Ordinance and of the current Bombay Act are being placed in the Library. Experience in Bombay and elsewhere has proved the high deterrent value of the penalty to the hooligan type of offender. Actually, it has not been used at all during the recent disorders in Bombay or Madras or several other Provinces, and in the two or three Provinces where its application has been necessary to check the extreme seriousness of attacks on life and property its use has in fact been confined within very strict limits. I see no reason to interfere with the discretion of the Indian authorities in this matter.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Can an assurance be given that this kind of penalty will be imposed only for robbery with violence, and not for any political misdemeanour?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Certainly. It is purely for rioting, arson, sabotage, and robbery with violence.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Is it worth while for this nation to have the obloquy of a thing of that sort?