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    how many years gandhi stayed in south arica as a lawyer?

    Mohammed

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    Gandhi in South Africa

    GANDHI IN SOUTH AFRICA

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    As Gandhi himself said, South Africa was essential to his personal achievement. It is during the 21 years he spent in South Africa, from 1893 to 1914, broken by a few visits to India and England, that this timid young man who had just passed the bar examination became the man who would lead India to its independence and instigate the world movement of decolonization.

    A routine procedure of the time at the Pietermaritzburg train station – Gandhi’s arrest for defending his right to travel in the whites only wagon – would later change the world. This event is what initiated Gandhi’s contemplation of racial discrimination, and represents the beginning of his philosophy of nonviolent protest and many arrests in the defence of the Indian people.

    This passive resistance: Satyagraha (of truth force in Sanskrit) was born and evolved in South Africa before coming to India and, eventually, the world. When, at 46, Gandhi left the country he also left a way of thinking and acting that found an echo in many of the country’s struggles, most notable that of Nelson Mandela. Even as Gandhi’s adventure in South Africa started in Durban, Johannesburg witnesses his main struggles. The Satyagraha House is thus a place that left its imprint on the life of the Mahatma.

    स्रोत : www.satyagrahahouse.com

    Introduction

    Mahatma Gandhi's life as a barrister

    Introduction

    1. Mahatma Gandhi sailed for England on 4th September, 1888 to study law and become a barrister. He kept terms at the Inner Temple and after nine months' intensive study he took all his subjects in one examination which he passed. He was called to the Bar on 10th June, 1891 and was enrolled in the High Court of England the next day. A day later, he sailed home. After his return to India he started practice as a lawyer at first in the High Court at Bombay and a little later in Rajkot but did not make much headway in the profession. It was only when the hand of destiny guided his steps to South Africa that he soon made his mark there as a lawyer and as a public worker. Gandhiji practised as a lawyer for over twenty years before he gave up the practice of the profession in order to devote all his time and energy to public service. The valuable experience and skill that he acquired in the course of his large and lucrative practice stood him in good stead in fighting his battles with the South African and British governments for securing political, economic and social justice for his fellow-countrymen. Gandhiji was not a visionary but a practical idealist. As Sir Stafford Cripps has remarked: "He was no simple mystic; combined with his religious outlook was his lawyer-trained mind, quick and apt in reasoning. He was a formidable opponent in argument."1

    2. Gandhiji went to South Africa in April 1893 and stayed for a whole year in Pretoria in connection with the case of Sheth Dada Abdulla who was involved in a civil suit with his near relative Sheth Tyeb Haji Khan Mahammad who also stayed in Pretoria. The year's stay in Pretoria proved to be a most valuable experience in Gandhiji's life. Here it was that he had opportunities of learning public work and acquired some measure of his capacity for it. Here it was that the religious spirit within him became a living force. It was here too that he acquired a true knowledge of legal practice and learnt the things that a junior barrister learns in a senior barrister's chamber and also gained confidence that he would not after all fail as a lawyer. It was likewise here that he learnt the secret of success as a lawyer.2

    Dada Abdulla's was no small or ordinary case. The suit which he had filed against Tyeb Sheth who was his near relative claiming £ 40,000/- arose out of business transactions and was full of intricacies of accounts. The claim was based partly on promissory notes and partly on the specific performance of promise to deliver promissory notes. The defence was that the promissory notes had been fraudulently obtained and lacked sufficient consideration3.

    There were numerous points of fact and law in this intricate case and both sides had engaged the best attorneys and counsel.4

    The preparation of the plaintiffs case involved much patient industry and close study of facts. Furthermore it needed clear thinking and judgment.5

    Gandhiji took the keenest interest in the case and threw himself heart, and soul into it.6 He gained the complete confidence of both the parties and persuaded them to submit the suit to an arbitrator of their choice instead of continuing with expensive, prolonged, and bitter litigation. The arbitrator ruled in Dada Abdulla Sheth's favour, and awarded him £ 37,000/- and costs. It was however impossible for Tyeb Sheth to pay down the whole of the awarded amount. Gandhiji then managed to persuade Dada Abdulla to let Tyeb Sheth pay him the money in moderate instalments spread over a long period of years, rather than ruin him by insisting on an immediate settlement.7 Gandhiji was overjoyed at the success of his first case in South Africa and concluded that the whole duty of an advocate was not to exploit legal and adversary advantages but to promote compromise and reconciliation.8

    3. It was Dada Abdulla's case which enabled Gandhiji to realize early in his career the paramount importance of facts. As he observes in his autobiography "facts mean truth and once we adhere to truth, the law comes to our aid naturally".9

    Facts according to Gandhiji constituted three-fourths of the law and if we took care of the facts of a case the law would take care of itself. As a result of this realization of the paramount importance of facts in Dada Abdulla's case, Gandhiji was never known afterwards to brush aside or slur over a fact however inconvenient or prejudicial it might seem. Strict adherence to this principle enabled him more than once in a crisis to find a way out of what to all intents and purposes looked like an impenetrable ring of steel.10 From this and several similar experiences Gandhiji learnt to regard law not as an intellectual legerdemain to make black appear white and white black, but as "codified ethics". The profession of law became to him the means to enthrone justice, not "entangle justice" in the net of law.11

    4. From 1893 till 1913 Gandhiji practised in South Africa. Early in his practice he realized that "the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder". "This lesson", he writes, "was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases."12

    5. If there was one characteristic more than another that stamped Gandhi as a man amongst men, it was his extraordinary love of truth. The Mahatma was an ardent and inveterate votary of truth. Truth, like nonviolence, was the first article of his faith and the last article of his creed. It was therefore no wonder that in his practice of the law, he maintained the highest traditions of the profession and did not swerve by a hair's breadth from the path of rectitude and integrity. He was always valiant for truth, bold in asserting it in scorn of all consequence, and never sold the truth to serve the interests of his clients. He never forgot "that if he was the advocate of an individual, and retained and remunerated, often inadequately, for his valuable services, yet he had a prior and perpetual retainer on behalf of truth and justice." It may truly be said of him that he practised law without compromising truth. As he observes, "My principle was put to the test many a time in South Africa. Often I knew that my opponents had tutored their witnesses, and if I only encouraged my client or his witnesses to lie, we could win the case. But I always resisted the temptation.... In my heart of hearts I always wished that I should win only if my client's case was right. ... I warned every new client at the outset that he should not expect me to take up a false case or to coach the witnesses, with the result that I built up such a reputation that no false cases used to come to me. Indeed some of my clients would keep their clean cases for me, and take the doubtful ones elsewhere."13

    स्रोत : www.mkgandhi.org

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