Satvinder S. Juss, Barrister and first Sikh Professor of Law in the UK, reveals new details about the ‘unfair’ trial of Sardar Bhagat Singh, India’s freedom revolutionary. On April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly “to make the deaf hear” as their leaflet described the reason for their act.
Prof. Satvinder S. Juss’s forthcoming book, entitled: ‘The Execution of Bhagat Singh: Heresies of the Raj” focuses on the faulty legal framework provided by the British Raj.
He is in conversation with Pervaiz Alam.
“I discovered great material from the archives in Lahore. Bhagat Singh was a very brave man. He believed in a secular India,” says Prof. Juss.
He gets emotional when he reminds the role played by Justice Agha Hyder, one of the three judges hearing the case of Bhagat Singh.
“In order to ensure that Bhagat Singh and his Comrades were prosecuted without a right of appeal to the High Court against a sentence of death, a Special Tribunal was set up by the Governor – General outside the legal system under Ordinance to try him.”
Prof. Juss says Justice Agha Hyder disagreed with the British framework. He said “I’m a judge, not a butcher.”
“Mohd Ali Jinnah pleaded for Bhagat Singh and his co accused, powerfully. However, there are questions about Mahatma Gandhi’s role in defending Bhagat Singh. He could have sought Bhagat singh’s release but he didn’t,” says Prof. Juss.
He tells Cine Ink even the legendary Urdu poet (Allama) Mohammad Iqbal stood by Bhagat Singh and his comrades when the British decided to constitute a special tribunal for Bhagat Singh’s trial. There were about 365 witnesses who never got a chance to present their evidence.
Satvinder S. Juss who is a noted human rights lawyer and teaches law at The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College, London,
In the beginning of the conversation, Prof. Juss expresses his deep concern over the human rights conditions in India.
“We were proud of the fact that we Indians were inclusive and pluralistic society. The model worked well for the country. Now, our political leaders are changing this model,” says Satvinder S. Juss.
Prof. Juss says “It’s a resounding victory for Modi. He has gives us a very good slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’. The world’s eyes are on him whether he is going to practically implement it.”
Expressing his concern, Prof. Satvinder Juss says “The institutional infrastructure has weakened in India. Public institutions are under pressure to toe the line of the ruling elite. Take for example, the JNU, where academics are under pressure. The eyes of the world are on us at the moment. If we do no deliver, the world would not take our democracy seriously.”
He adds “I have to complement RSS for strengthening its network abroad and in the UK that’s why they are getting support for their Hindutva cause.
Profile: Dr Satvinder Singh Juss, Ph.D (Cantab) FRSA, is a Professor of Law at King’s College London UK, Barrister-at-Law practising from 3 Hare Court, Temple, London, and Deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal (IAC). He has been a Human Rights Fellow at Harvard Law School, Boston, USA and a Fellow of Emmanuel College Cambridge.
He has been a Migration Commissioner at the Royal Society of Arts and contributed to the report on ‘Migration: A Welcome Opportunity’, and more also worked with the Centre for Social Justice in their work on Human Trafficking, which led to anti-trafficking legislation being passed in 2015.
He is Member of the Panel of Advisers of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom. As a Barrister, he has acted for government of Belize, Bermuda and Trinidad undertaking commercial litigation. He has published widely on the subjects of human rights, constitutional law, and international refugee law. His recent books include Human Rights and America’s War on Terror (2018), and Beyond Human Rights and the War on Terror(2018). His forthcoming books include Human Rights in India (in press), where he has written on the unconstitutional nature of India’s death penalty, and The Execution of Bhagat Singh: Heresies of the Raj.
Bhagat Singh Case: On April 8, 1929, Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly “to make the deaf hear” as their leaflet described the reason for their act. As intended, nobody was hurt by the explosion as Bhagat Singh had aimed the bomb carefully, to land away from the seated members, on the floor. The bomb, deliberately of low intensity, was thrown to protest the repressive Public Safety Bill and Trades Dispute Bill and the arrest of 31 labour leaders in March 1929. Then a shower of leaflets came fluttering down from the gallery like a shower of leaves and the members of the Assembly heard the sound of, ‘Inquilab Zindabad!’ and ‘Long live Proletariat!’ rent the air.
Bhagat Singh and B.K.Dutt let themselves be arrested, even when they could have escaped, to use their court appearances as a forum for revolutionary propaganda to advocate the revolutionaries’ point of view