64. An Advocate's Dilemma

The following from an advocate has been passed on to me for reply:
"The resolution of Independence means the negation of the King. But by practising in the courts I express my allegiance to the King. It is impossible for me to undergo the sacrifice of giving up my practice, as I have no other source of income, and it would be quite dishonest for me to remain in the Congress after this resolution and continue my practice. My friends in the Congress say that the Congress has not banned the courts. But the question is, that by declaring Independence I am infringing my professional allegiance and conduct. My practice does not of course affect my being a member of the Congress. But I think it is impossible for a practising lawyer to remain in both camps. It may be said, that the Congress has only declared Independence as its immediate objective, but it is not a declaration of Independent Government. It is only intellectual jugglery, I do not see any difference. Please let me know if my view is correct, and if not, why not?"
The dilemma is there. My sympathies and my opinion are with the advocate. But the argument goes deeper than the advocate has carried it. When I use a postage stamp or a coin bearing the King's portrait, I seem to belie my profession of Independence. When I obey a policeman's instructions or pay taxes, I acknowledge the King's authority. And some of these things I should be doing even if we declared an independent parallel Government which we have not as yet. How am I to solve the puzzle? Must I, because I do not or cannot go the 'whole hog', continue to bear allegiance to the King? One escape from the dilemma is to withdraw all such voluntary co-operation as it is possible for me to withdraw and as is calculated to diminish the prestige and the authority of that rule. The Congress could not go further than it did without weaning from it a large number of useful and able workers. Experience has shown that the Congress organisation breaks down where lawyers withdraw their assistance. They have from the very commencement taken the most active and effective part in the Congress. It is unfortunate, that the other classes still feel powerless to run Congress Committees without the assistance of lawyers. They are called officers of the Court. They know what foreign rule means. By training they are the fittest to carry on political agitation when they are honestly and patriotically moved. They have undoubtedly done much for the national movement, but much more is expected from them. And I have no doubt, that when the movement demands from them the last sacrifice, many if not all of them will prove equal to it. Meanwhile since the Congress has not declared boycott of law courts, the matter rests with individual conscience. Where consistently with it, a lawyer cannot both practise and remain in the Congress and cannot give up practice, he may give up Congress, and still help it as effectively as if he was in it, provided of course that he believes in Independence being the right and the duty of every Indian to work for and achieve. I may mention incidentally that many lawyers think that they have a lien on the Congress, and they resent as intrusion the advent of laymen to office; whereas they should deem it a privilege to prepare laymen to take office and make them feel, that if they the laymen have bravery and sacrifice, they can run Congress organisations just as well as lawyers. Indeed there are today several committees that are being efficiently and ably managed by non-professional men. The movement in that direction however needs to receive a much greater impetus. We want a Committee in every one of the seven hundred thousand villages. Thank God we have not got in all India even seventy thousand lawyers. Cobblers, scavengers, tanners, tailors, brick­layers and the like should be found willing and able to work Congress Committees. The educated few can hasten the event, if they will.

Young India, 13-2-1930, p. 49