ONLINE BOOKS  >  THE LAW AND THE LAWYERS > SECTION III : THE TRIALS OF GANDHIJI > Before the Court in 1908
21. Before the Court in 1908

[Editor's Note: On the 11th January 1908 Gandhiji appeared before the Court and pleaded guilty to the charge of disobeying the order of the Court to leave the Colony within 48 hours.
The following account of the proceedings in Court is taken from the Indian Opinion.]

Mr. Gandhi asked leave to make a short statement and having obtained it, he said he thought there should be distinction made between his case and those who were to follow. He had just received a message from Pretoria stating that his compatriots had been tried there and had been sentenced to three months' imprisonment with hard labour, and they had been fined a heavy amount in lieu of payment of which -they would receive a further period of three months' hard labour. If these men had committed an offence, he had committed a greater offence, and he asked the Magistrate to impose upon him the heaviest penalty.
Mr. Jordan : You asked for the heaviest penalty which the law authorized? mr. gandhi : Yes, Sir.
Mr. Jordan : I must say I do not feel inclined to accede to your request of passing the heaviest sentence which is six months' hard labour with a fine of £500. That appears to me to be totally out of proportion to the offence which you have committed. The offence practically is Contempt of Court in having disobeyed the order of December 28, 1907. This is more or less a political offence, and if it had not been for the political defiance set to the law, I should have thought it my duty to pass the lowest sentence which I am authorized by the Act. Under the circumstance, I think a fair sentence to meet the case would be two months' imprisonment without hard labour.
Mr. Gandhi was then removed in custody.

Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, 4th Ed., Natesan, Madras, pp. 52