In the elaborateness with which the Dewan has dealt with the subjects of Land Revenue and Agriculture are significant of his active labours in those departments, the short notices hearing on the all-important subjects of Legislation, Police and the Courts of Law seem to us not the less significant. The importance of these subjects arises from the fact that where is Legislation enumerates in theory the relationship that ought to exist between the Government and the governed, the Police serve to maintain that relationship intact by the exercise or show of physical force and the judiciary punishes all attempts of breach of this relationship.
But how are these short notices significant and what do they signify? Touching Legislation, we are told that a number of bills have been engaging the attention of the council. The Canal and Ferries Bill which has passed into law will, it is hoped, be worked in a spirit of sympathy. We shall be very thankful to the State if the revenues derived by the enforcement of the Act are spent in maintaining the canals and ferries in their proper condition and not wasted on establishments. The Bill to amend and consolidate the law relating to Civil Courts is said to await final passing. But from what the member for Kottarakara said in the Assembly we understand that the views of the public have not been fully and adequately considered. Of the other Bills that are on the Legislative anvil, the most important is of course the Arms Bill. We are afraid that this piece of enactment has been thrust upon the consideration of the State by events that have transpired abroad. We must say at once that in the interests of the great body of the population of this State which lives in jungles and forests, it is Dewan Peshkars whose opinions are very valuable in this connection have without exception expressed their belief that the free use of arms hast not been attended with any danger or likelihood of danger. Hence it will be a serious reflection on the Integrity of the State to be reduced to the plight of passing a law which is not only not needed but which will be positively prejudicial to the interests of the poor people. We wish that the Government should withdraw this bill as early as possible. Let them not get ruffled over the insignificant incident at the Chalai which, by the tactlessness of the authorities, has been made to assume serious dimensions. We trust also that the authorities here will not display that nervousness which is at present the characteristic of the British Indian official. It is to be noted that during the year a considerable portion of the energies of the people was spent in the investigation of the disabilities of the Nairs and Samanthas in respect of their marriage, succession, &C. And we believe that that is the reason why a number of Bills remained unnoticed and un-passed during the year. We hope that a spirit of conservatism will be maintained in respect of legislation in general.
The Dewan's remarks regarding the Police are amusing. It will be remembered that one of the most important subjects discussed in the last session of the Assembly was that of Police reform and that some of the members even went so far as to formulate schemes for the improvement of the Department. This year too, the Police have come to a good deal of constructive and destructive criticism as the hands of the members, so much so that we are afraid that in this most important affair the Dewan has not been able to meet the wishes of the People. It may be that he had not much time to think of this subject in all its bearings or that he has been advised that at present no material change is required in the composition and working of the force. We do not see eye to eye with those who hold such views. We believe that any improvement in the department, to be of any good to the people; must be based upon the principle of better equipment and better discipline. Taking an analysis of the Police forces of different countries, we observe that the Police force of Travancore is not underpaid or ill-treated by the State or the Public. We are afraid that a Police force cannot do its duty to the people unless and until it is controlled by persons who have the sense of responsibility to the public interests always present before them. The improvement in the pay and prospects of Police Inspectors may possibly attract a better class of men for the service; but what is needed at once is to generate in the minds of these officers the sense of importance of their duties in relation to the people. The peace and order of the State and the general welfare of the people are the chief aims of the Police; and these are best secured by the diligence and zeal of those who happen to control the brute force of the underpaid constable. In the absence of such wholesome restraint the lawlessness of the Police must be surely felt as it is at present. We have in this connection the misfortune to refer to the most unhappy remarks made by the Dewan in reference to the disturbance that lately took place in the Chalai. It was, we think, very un-statesmanlike on the part of the Dewan to have characterised it as a serious riot and to have given his own version as to how it began and what consequences followed it. We are sure that under other circumstances these remarks of the Dewan will be taken to amount to a contempt of court; and where the State itself is the complainant such a behaviour was thoroughly unwarranted. We trust, however, that the worthy judge who presides over the chalai riot case will not be influenced by any versions of the incident given under the above circumstances; and we are sure that the interests of the accused are sufficiently safe in the Judge's hands. As the case is sub Judice, we refrain from making any further remarks about it. But we believe we have the right on behalf of the public to protest most emphatically against the conduct of the Dewan in the present instance and to resent most solemnly the avowed intention of the Government to reinforce the Pangode Battalion or quarter a punitive police on the plea of necessity to provide for such contingencies as the above said riot. We trust the Government of His Highness will display more wisdom and consideration than to rush into this extreme folly.
The working of the judiciary has not evidently been watched by the Government, It is most unsatisfactory to learn that during the year the State of crime generally and the working of the Criminal Courts showed no changes worth mentioning. It is not too much to say that the confidence of the people in the justice of Government depends a good deal upon the successful working of the criminal courts. The Civil Courts show also considerable laxity of supervision. We trust that in the current year these important items of State administration will receive due attention at the Dewan's hands.