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266 REPORT OF THE INDIAN HEMP DRUGS COMMISSION, 1893-94. [CH. XIV.

as is personal only, involving no consequences, none at least of a painful or inju-
rious kind, to other people, I hold that it is allowable in all, and in the more
thoughtful and cultivated often a duty, to assert and promulgate with all the
force they are capable of their opinion of what is good or bad, admirable or
contemptible, but not to compel others to conform to that opinion, whether the
force used is that of extra legal coercion, or exerts itself by means of the law.
Even in those portions of conduct which do affect the interests of others, the
onus of making out a case always lies on the defenders of legal prohibitions.
It is not merely a constructive or presumptive injury to others which will justify
the interference of law with individual freedom. To be prevented from what one
is inclined to, or from acting contrary to one's own judgment of what is desirable,
is not only always irksome, but always tends, pro tanto, to starve the develop-
ment of some portion of the bodily or mental faculties, either sensitive or active;
and, unless the conscience of the individual goes freely with the legal restraint, it
partakes, either in a great or in a small degree, of the degradation of slavery.
Scarcely any degree of utility short of absolute necessity will justify a prohibi-
tory regulation, unless it can also be made to recommend itself to the general
conscience; unless persons of ordinary good intentions either believe already,
or can be induced to believe, that the thing prohibited is a thing which they ought
not to wish to do." These remarks have been given at length, because the Com-
mission believe that they contain a clear exposition of the principles which
should guide them in deciding whether the prohibition of the hemp drugs should
be authoritatively enforced by Government.

The question of entirely suppress-
ing all intoxicants.

554. Now, a certain number of persons (among whom may in all probability
be reckoned the mover of the question in the House
of Commons which led to the appointment of the
Indian Hemp Drugs Commission) deem it to be the duty of the British Govern-
ment to suppress the trade in all intoxicants in all the countries under its sway;
and there are no doubt special circumstances in India which render it less
impossible than in some other countries to consider even so drastic a policy. These
are notably the general sobriety of its races and the feeling, popular as well as
religious, which prevails against their use among a large section of the commu-
nity. Even then no appeal in support of such a measure can be made to
the public morality or practice of civilised nations at large, nor, so far as the
Commission are aware, to any marked success attending the experiment in parti-
cular instances. In the exceptional cases in which the experiment has been attend-
ed with partial success (as in some of the American States), the reformation of the
habit has become an object of desire to the majority of the people, and the
enactment for promoting such reformation has presented itself less as a re-
strictive force than as an auxiliary agency.

Not laid before the Commission.

555. But the Commission are not called upon to pronounce on so wide an
issue. It was not upon the basis of this general
principle that the Secretary of State for India
accepted the proposal made in the House of Commons, nor do the instructions
issued to the Commission by the Government of India cover so wide a field.
The question of prohibiting the production and sale of the hemp drugs in India
has to be considered by the Commission apart from the general question, and
such prohibition must be justified, if at all, on some more special ground than
the mere fact that they are intoxicants.

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