Lawyers in the Indian Freedom Movement

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  1. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2009
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    Lawyers in the Indian Freedom Movement « The Bar Council of India

    With the selfless guidance and statesmanship of the legal profession, the Indian national movement gained participation and its impact reached far beyond immediate political consequences.

    The movement that began in 1857 as a sepoy mutiny took the shape of a nationwide struggle for Independence from the British Raj. It incorporated various national and regional campaigns, agitations and efforts of both non-violent and militant philosophies.

    Humble beginnings of the Indian National Congress:

    After the First war of Independence in 1857 and its aftermath, the formation of Indian National Congress in 1885 marked the beginning of a new era in the national movement. The era was of moderates like Dadabhai Naoroji and Sundernath Bannerjee while Madan Mohan Malviya and Motilal Nehru, amongst others, were important moderate leaders who were lawyers by profession. The moderates believed in the system of constitutionalism. They functioned more as a debating society that met annually to express its loyalty to the British Raj and passed numerous resolutions on less controversial issues such as civil rights or opportunities in government which were submitted to the Viceroy’s government and occasionally to the British Parliament. But none of this made any substantive impact.

    In 1905, the British announced the partition of Bengal on communal lines. This was opposed by the Congress and the nationalist leaders who adopted policies like Swadeshi wherein they boycotted British goods and promoted Indian goods. This created a faction in the Congress and brought to light the underlying forces of antagonism that was prevalent in the Indian National Congress due to the opposite ideologies of Moderates and emerging group of the extremists.

    The extremists – Lal, Bal, Pal

    Lawyers like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was an extremist, gave a new direction to the INC. Tilak began a new phase of more radical thought within the organization. He put forth new ideas and methods of opposing the imperialist rule and advocated stronger actions like the boycott of foreign goods and the policy of swadeshi (self reliance). He did not believe that the British rule was beneficial and instead felt that their rule was extremely harmful. He introduced the idea of Swaraj (complete independence) way back in 1897 with his famous statement,”Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it”.

    After the partition of Bengal he emerged as an important leader of the extremist faction. In the 1906 session he was able to get his ideas of swaraj, swadeshi and boycott adopted despite the opposition of the moderates. After the split of the Indian National Congress in 1907, the British began cracking down on extremist leaders. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was imprisoned and deported to Mandalay for six years. During this time he wrote two books, Gita Rahasya and the Artic Home in the Vedas. He was released in 1914 and started the home rule league two years later in 1916, which inspired the youth to fight against the foreign occupation of the country. Sir Valentine Chirol rightly described him as one of the most dangerous pioneers of disaffection and truly the father of Indian unrest.

    Other eminent lawyers who supported the extremist ideology were C. Rajagopalachari and Lala Lajpat Rai.Lala Lajpat Rai was popularly known as the Punjab Kesari and Sher-e-Punjab and was also the founder of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company. He formed the extremist faction of the congress along with Tilak and Bipin Chndra Pal, the trio was popularly called ‚Lal, Bal, Pal‚. Later, Lajpat Rai presided over the first session of the All India Trade Union Congress in 1920. He also went to Geneva to attend the eighth International Labour Conference in 1926 as a representative of Indian labour. His journals Bande Mataram and People, contained his inspiring speeches to end oppression by the foreign rulers.

    Fighting the British in court:

    A cycle of violence and repression had ensued in some parts of the country as a result of the partition of Bengal, and Alipore Bomb Case was a famous controversy which arose at that time. Aurobindo Ghosh and 37 other revolutionaries were suspected to have been engaged in illegal activities and sedition and were arrested. However, the eminent lawyer CR Das came to the rescue, who through his brilliant handling of the case got Aurobindo and many others was acquitted. This case brought Das to the forefront professionally and politically. Also called Deshbandhu, CR Das, used his legal knowledge to save many other nationalists and revolutionaries from the clutches of the British. He was the defence counsel in the Dacca Conspiracy Case (1910-11) as well and was famed for his handling of both civil and criminal law...

    Mahatma Gandhi:

    This also marked the entrance of Mahatma Gandhi in the mainstream Indian politics. Gandhi, also a lawyer by profession, had just returned from South Africa, where he had carried out a successful Satyagraha against the racial discrimination and for civil liberties of the people. Meanwhile, Gandhi had made his mark in India already by his success in Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha. Gandhi led organized protests and strikes against the landlords who, with the guidance of the British government, signed an agreement granting the poor farmers of the region more compensation and control over farming, and cancellation of revenue hikes and its collection until the famine ended. In Kheda, Sardar Patel, a lawyer by profession, represented the farmers in negotiations with the British, who suspended revenue collection and released all the prisoners.

    Patel subsequently organised the peasants of Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj; in this role, he became one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat.

    Rajendra Prasad, an eminent lawyer and the first President of India, was also involved with Gandhi in the Champaran movement. Bhulabhai Desai, another lawyer and a politician, represented the farmers of Gujarat in the inquiry by the British Government following the Bardoli Satyagraha in 1928. Bhulabhai formidably represented the farmers’ case, and was important to the eventual success of the struggle...

    Full article here click - Lawyers in the Indian Freedom Movement « The Bar Council of India

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