This Day in History (10-Aug-1930) – In the ‘Gandhi Cap Case’ in Guntur, the magistrate prohibits wearing of Gandhi caps within a five-mile radius of the town

Justice Pandalay’s most famous judgement was in what was known as the ‘The Gandhi Cap Case.’ N.L. Rajah, in his history of the 150 years of the Madras High Court, lists it as one of the cause cèlébres of the Court. Apparently in June 1930, the District Magistrate of Guntur passed an order that the Gandhi cap could not be worn by anyone in a public place in Guntur and within five miles of it. Negotiations on this went back and forth, but the Magistrate eventually backed the Police plea that they could not differentiate between who was a member of the Civil Disobedience Movement (all of whom wore the caps) and who was not but who might be wearing the cap.

In rejecting the contention that the order was necessary for safeguarding public tranquillity, Justice Pandalay, who heard the appeal, stated that those who wore the Gandhi cap could not necessarily be considered supporters of the Civil Disobedience Movement; such an inference would be an injustice to the numerous persons who wore the cap as a mark of sympathy with Gandhi’s views for a long time before the Civil Disobedience Movement. It was well-known that Gandhi was interested in several other causes besides the Movement. He did not think there was any danger in allowing people to wear the Gandhi cap in Guntur.

In the course of his judgement, judge said that if an Englishman can wear a top hat or a bowler or a peak cap or a pith helmet as part of his attire, there was no reason why an Indian couldn’t wear a Gandhi cap, which was part of the national dress of many.



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