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Emperor Vs. Morarji Padamsey - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case Number Criminal Application No. 345 of 1945
Judge
Reported inAIR1946Bom325; (1946)48BOMLR155
AppellantEmperor
RespondentMorarji Padamsey
DispositionApplication allowed
Excerpt:
.....to aspire for freedom and to join hands with their fellow-men in the rest of india does not prejudice his majesty's relations with the government of portugal. - - the aim of this book, which as we have stated is issued by the goa congress committee, is precisely to disinter the causes and bring to the conscience of goans the slow mental change they are going through during 430 years of foreign rule, grooving increasingly unfit for an independent and free life; and towards the end of the book the author strikes the same note that the salvation of the goans depends on their will to cultivate a national and human dignity in themselves, to free their mind from the spirit of servility and imitation, of their ape-like and characterless moods, reacting vigorously against their rulers in;..........state or with any foreign power. now; it is the contention of government that by publishing this book the relations between his majesty and the government of portugal have been prejudiced. it is to be noted that the word ' prejudice ' is not defined anywhere in the defence of india act or the rules framed thereunder. ' prejudice ' is not a term with any definite connotation, and in order to construe it one is entitled to look at the purpose for which the rules under the defence of india act are to be framed. we agree with the learned advocate general that if one of the defence of india rules prohibits a certain act specifically, then we must give effect to that prohibition; but where the word used is ambiguous and is not defined and is not clear as to its interpretation, it is open to.....
Judgment:

Chagla, J.

1. This is an application under Section 23 of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, for setting aside an order of the Government of Bombay dated March 22, 1945. The order forfeited the security of Rs. 1,500 deposited by Vishwanath Ramchandra Savant, the keeper of the press known as the Associated Advertisers and Printers, Limited, The reason why the Government made this order is stated in the body of the order itself, and it points out that whereas the Associated Advertisers and Printers, Limited, Press, has been used for the purpose of printing a book in English entitled '' Denationalisation of Goans ' which contains certain words which are set out at the foot of that order and whereas it appeared to the Government of Bombay that those words were likely to prejudice His Majesty's relations with the Portuguese Government and, as such, constitute a prejudicial report and come within the scope of Clause (bb) of Section 4(1) of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, the Government of Bombay were moved to forfeit the security deposited by Vishwa-nath Ramchandra Savant. Section 4(1), Clause (bb), of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, refers to words, signs or visible representations which directly or indirectly convey any ' confidential information' any ' information likely to assist the: enemy' or any ' prejudicial report', as defined in the rules made under the Defence of India Act, 1939, or are calculated to instigate the contravention of any of those rules.

2. The case of Government is that this particular book ' Denationalisation of Goans''' contains a prejudicial report as denned in the Defence of India Rules. ' Prejudicial report' is denned in Rule 34, Clause (7), as any report, statement or visible representation, whether true or false, which, or the publishing of which, is, or is an incitement lathe commission of, a prejudicial act as defined in this rule; and 'prejudicial act' is denned in Rule 34, Clause (6), and the only definition with which we are concerned is the one contained in Sub-clause (a) which is to prejudice His Majesty's relations with' any Indian State or with any foreign power. Now; it is the contention of Government that by publishing this book the relations between His Majesty and the Government of Portugal have been prejudiced. It is to be noted that the word ' prejudice ' is not defined anywhere in the Defence of India Act or the Rules framed thereunder. ' Prejudice ' is not a term with any definite connotation, and in order to construe it one is entitled to look at the purpose for which the Rules under the Defence of India Act are to be framed. We agree with the learned Advocate General that if one of the Defence of India Rules prohibits a certain act specifically, then we must give effect to that prohibition; but where the word used is ambiguous and is not defined and is not clear as to its interpretation, it is open to us to look to the object with which the Rules were framed under the Defence of India Act; and when we turn to Section 2, the Defence of India Act provides that the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make such rules as appear to it to be necessary or expedient for securing the defence of British India, the public safety, the maintenance of public order or the efficient prosecution of war, or for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community. Therefore it is clear that in order that a publication or a book should prejudice His Majesty's relations with a foreign power, the publication must be such as in some way to affect one of the objects referred to in Section 2(1) of the Defence of India Act to which we have just referred.

3. Mr. Drewe, Secretary to the Government of Bombay in the Home Department, has made an affidavit in which he points out that complaints were made to the Government of Bombay by the Portuguese Government drawing the attention of the former Government to this particular publication; and pointing out that that publication was resented. Now we have; nothing to do with the view taken by the Portuguese Government as to the nature of this book, and in that sense the affidavit of Mr. Drewe is not very helpful. As a matter of fact, in the affidavit Mr. Drewe says that various other books published by the Goa Congress Committee, which has also published the book in question entitled 'Denationalisation of Goans,' have brought about unpleasant relations between His Majesty and the Portuguese Government, and it is not specifically stated that the cause of the strained relations is this book itself. But as we are pointing out the affidavit of Mr. Drewe is not very helpful because it is for us to decide on a perusal of the book itself and after carefully considering the objected passages whether the publication comes within the mischief of Section 4(1), Clause (bb), of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act. As a matter of fact if one were permitted to look at the affidavit of Mr. Drewe for the purpose of deciding whether the book falls under Clause (bb) of Section 4(1), it would be equally relevant to consider what Morarji Padamsey says in paragraph 1 of his affidavit dated August 2, 1945, that though the Government of Bombay have taken action under the Press Act against this book, this book has not been proscribed in Goa by the Portuguese Government and that the book is being freely and openly sold in Goa. This statement has not been denied or disputed by Mr. Drewe in his affidavit to which I have just referred.

4. But we must look at the book as a whole in order to determine whether it is likely to prejudice the relations between His Majesty and the Portuguese Government. The aim of this book, which as we have stated is issued by the Goa Congress Committee, is precisely to disinter the causes and bring to the conscience of Goans the slow mental change they are going through during 430 years of foreign rule, grooving increasingly unfit for an independent and free life; and it is further pointed out by the author that it is only by acquiring this consciousness that they would be able to react against their own denationalisation and cease to be the willing slaves they are today. The whole object of the book, as pointed out in the preface, is to open the eyes of the Goans who have been blinded by a most ruthless process of mental bondage. And towards the end of the book the author strikes the same note that the salvation of the Goans depends on their will to cultivate a national and human dignity in themselves, to free their mind from the spirit of servility and imitation, of their ape-like and characterless moods, reacting vigorously against their rulers in;the political, ideological, social and economic fields, and even in the most every-day habits of their life. The book really contains a historical analysis beginning from the days of Albuquerque in the year 1510 right up to the modern times pointing out the various causes and processes which have led to the denationalisation of Goans. It first points out that there is a historical myth about the doings and activities of Albuquerque and that a great deal of falsified history and propaganda is carried on in Goa in order to make the people feel that Albuquerque was a man free from all racial bias and a great benefactor of the Goans. In exploding this myth the author refers to the letters of Albuquerque himself and also to the writings of one Corsali. He points out that he put to the sword all the Moslems, set fire to cities, burnt mosques full of worshippers, killed women and children and ordered the roasting alive of prisoners; and the author expresses therein an amazement that such a barbarous and ferocious man should have succeeded in leaving behind him a name for tolerance even among those who are today the victims of his cruel policy. Then the author points out again historically how the people of Goa were converted to Christianity; he says-and he cites authorities for his purpose-that the people of Goa were converted to Christianity by what he calls ' mass baptism ' and terrorisms. He then deals with the part played by the: Inquisition in Goa which continued to rule from the middle of the sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century; and here again he quotes from the instructions issued by the Inquisition to the people of Goa. These instructions in brief amount to asking the Goans completely to denationalise themselves; they were not to wear the clothes which the Hindus were wearing; they were not to eat what the Hindus were eating; and the attempt was made by the Inquisitors to interfere with the smallest details of the personal and intimate life of a Goan. It is significant to note that in support of this tirade against the Inquisition the author quotes no less a person than the Archbishop of Evors in a sermon he is supposed to have delivered at Lisbon; and the Archbishop says:

If everywhere the Inquisition was an infamous Court, the infamy, however base, however vile, however corrupt and determined by worldly interests, it was never more so than the Inquisition of Goa, by irony of fate called the Holy Office. The Inquisitors even attained the infamy of sending to their prisons women who resisted them, there satisfying their beastly instincts and then burning them as heretics.

5. Then the author points out that although Portuguese writers have held up their hands in horror at the caste system prevailing in India, they themselves have perpetrated the worst form of caste system in Goa by creating an Imperial caste consisting of the Portuguese; and he also points out how this particular caste receives invidious treatment as against the other people residing in Goa. But the main theme of the book is/to point out historically how with the passage of time the Goans have become culturally denationalised and how they have copied and parodied western manners and customs and given up their own culture. In the opinion of the author the Portuguese showed themselves ferocious in their zeal for the destruction of Goanese culture but were unable to give any new culture in substitution of the culture they have destroyed. The author further points out that such culture as the Goans now possess is of a reactionary and anti-democratic quality; it is anti-liberal and directed against all social progress. The author further points out that denationalisation has resulted in the Goans acquiescing in political subjection and they are incapable of reacting against the suppression of all their civil liberties. He points out that the Goans had certain political rights under the Portuguese Republican regime and even under the constitutional monarchy of the nineteenth century; but under the present Portuguese. rule even those political rights have been taken away. He also emphasizes the important fact that the mother-tongue of the Goans, either Konkani or Maiathi, has been sternly repressed by the Government. He also draws the attention of his readers to the fact that the people of Goa have been pauperised by the Government issuing inconvertible paper-notes issued by the ' Banco Ultramarino' which have depreciated the value of rupee in Goa and it has also resulted in a general rise in the level of prices. He then lays a great deal of emphasis on the fact that by the policy of Government alcoholism has been encouraged in Goa and the people have taken to drink with the result that their moral and mental fibre has been affected; and the author cites what was stated in the World Economic Conference in London that Goa is a country where there; is a great deal of drunkenness; and the author sums up this part of his argument by saying that this drunkenness is responsible for the physical degeneracy and mental apathy of the race. In his final conclusion the author points out that the Portuguese rule has made the Goans servile, emasculated, obsequious and timid and that their present denationalisation makes them only submissive servants fit only for subordinate occupations. He further makes a plea to the people of Goa to ally themselves with the freedom movement growing in British India. He says that the Goans at present lack the necessary preparation for aspiring to freedom and he calls upon them to get out- of their mental slavery and to prepare' themselves so that they should be fit to aspire for freedom.

6. The Advocate General has contended that this book is an attack on a friendly power and as such it is bound to prejudice the relations of His Majesty with that Government. It is true that the book has attacked Portugal's colonising policy. It-is true that the book has emphatically pointed out that Portugal has used religion as a weapon of imperialism. But in our opinion that by itself is not sufficient to bring this publication within, the mischief of Rule 34(6) (a) of the Defence of India Rules. The whole aim of the author, it seems to us, is to trace historically the gradual denationalisation of Goans from the days of Albuquerque and pointing out what the consequences of this denationalisation are and finally emphasising the point that unless the Goans went back to their own culture and their own language they would always remain servile and subservient, unfit for any progress and incapable-of obtaining freedom. It is true that there are passages in the book which comment on the Fascist policy of the present Portuguese Government; but to criticise the political system of a Government, even though that Government may be on friendly terms with His Majesty, does not seem to us sufficient to bring a publication within the mischief aimed at under Clause (bb) of Section 4(11) of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers). Act as read with Rule 34(6) (a) of the Defence of India Rules. As we have stated earlier, it has got to' be established that this particular publication is intended or is likely to prejudice His Majesty's relations with Portugal and the relations must be so prejudiced as to in some way or other affect the public safety, the defence of British India, the maintenance of public order or the efficient prosecution of the war or maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community. A book which historically traces the gradual decadence of the Goans, a book which calls upon the Goans to free themselves from the historical background and their present outlook so that they should be more fitted to aspire for freedom and to join hands with their fellowcountrymen in the rest of India cannot possibly be said to prejudice His Majesty's relations with the Government of Portugal in the manner in which;we have indicated.

7. Under the circumstances we are of the opinion that the petitioner must succeed and the order complained of must be set aside. Application allowed with costs.


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