Since the dawn of time, political trials stand out as landmarks in man's quest for truth, freedom, and justice. Judicial trials have been used for political ends by persons in power or those who seek power or accountability from wielders of power. This book examines 12 significant political trials in Indian history from the early colonial era to the birth of free India. Each chapter focuses on a trial, which while representative of an era also illustrates peculiar judicial decisions that became turning points in India's past.
Using a lawyer's insights, backed by massive archival research, A.G. Noorani brings to life the cases, judges, famous lawyers, and accused in each political trial. His analysis turns them from people in distant memory to living individuals with points to prove. In each case the political setting and the calculations that prompted the decision to prosecute are discussed.
In emphasizing cases that resulted in political persecution and travesties of justice, the volume opens with the trial and judicial murder of Maharaja Nanda Kumar in Warren Hastings's Calcutta of 1775. It then proceeds to examine a trial manipulated to bring disrepute to a political foe, that of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1858; the use of a Habeas Corpus petition curbing the state's power to imprison any person arbitrarily without trial as in the Great Wahabi Case of 1943; the trial of Bal Gangadhar Tilak for sedition in 1897, 1908, and 1916 and his mastery defence by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Home Rule League colleague and counsel; and the trial of Aurobindo Ghose for inciting revolution in 1908.
Also included are the joint trial of the Shankaracharya of Sharda Peeth and the Ali Brothers at Karachi for conspiracy in 1921, Maulana Azad's trial on a charge of sedition in the same year in which he expounded a theology of liberation, the trial of Mahatma Gandhi in 1922 on a similar charge, the unique trial at Meerut of leaders of the Communist Party in 1930 for holding particular beliefs, the INA Trial of 1945 at the Red Fort in Delhi, concluding with the trial of the 'Lion of Kashmir', Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1946.
Covering the grey area between politics, law, justice, and statecraft and uncovering crucial facts relating to the state's capabilities and the judicial system's independence, this multi-faceted volume will interest not just legal professionals, historians and political scientists, but also an informed general audience.
About the Author:
A.G. Noorani is Advocate, Supreme Court of India and a columnist for the Hindustan Times and Frontline. His books include Constitutional Questions in India (OUP, 2000), Citizen's Rights and State Accountability (OUP, 2002), The Muslims of India (OUP, 2002), the BJP and The RSS: A Division of Labour (2001), Islam and Jihad (2002), Savarkar and Hindutva from 1528-2003.
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