Gandhiji: Waking Up the Nation

By: D.V.K Rao

Gandhiji knew that to contest cases in courts under the British
was of no use. Lokmanya Tilak had seen that; wasting time, effort
and money in a defamation case against one Valentine Chirol. Tikal’s
case was strong, but justice was whittled down. It broke him.
In Gandhiji’s case, the judge, an Englishman having heard him
now delivered the sentence, ‘ Mr. Gandhiji, you have made my task
easy in one way by pleading guilty to the charge. The law is no
respecter of persons. Nevertheless, it will be impossible to ignore
the fact that you are in a different category from any person I have
tried or am likely to have to try. It would be impossible to ignore the
fact that in the eyes of millions of your countrymen, you are a great
patriot and a great leader. Even those who differ from you in politics
look upon you as a man of high ideals and of noble and of saintly
life. I have to deal with you in one character only....and I do not
presume to judge or criticise you in any other character. It is my duty
to judge you as a man subject to the law, who by his own admission
has broken the law and committed what to an ordinary man must
appear to be a grave offense against the state. There are probably
few people in India who do not sincerely regret that you should have
made it impossible for any government to leave you at liberty. But it
is so... You will not consider it unreasonable, I think, that you should
be classed with Mr.Tilak, i.e., a sentence of six years in all, which I
feel it my duty to pass upon you. And I should like to say in doing

so, that if the course of events in India should make it possible for
the Government to reduce the period and release you, no one will be
better pleased than I.’
Gandhiji thanked the judge for the privilege of being classed
with Tilak, and for the courtesy that had been shown to him. The
sentence was severe, there was all round feeling. Both the judge and
Gandhiji conducted themselves with a rare dignity.

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