The ‘Alipore Bomb Case’ was “the first state trial of any magnitude in India”. The British Government arrested Sri Aurobindo, a prominent Nationalist Leader at the time, Barindra Ghose, and many young revolutionaries. They were charged with “Conspiracy” or “waging war against the King” – the equivalent of high treason and punishable with death by hanging.
The case dragged on with preliminary hearings in the Magistrate’s court, involving 1000 artefacts as evidence and 222 witnesses followed by a trial in Sessions Court, involving 1438 exhibits and 206 witnesses. During this period, the under-trial prisoners were illegally held in Presidency Jail under torturous conditions (including solitary confinement).
The judgment was finally delivered by Judge Beachcroft on 6 May 1909 after a protracted trial of one year. Sri Aurobindo was acquitted of all charges with the Judge condemning the flimsy nature of the evidence against him. Of the thirty-seven prisoners on trial, Barindra Ghose, as the head of the Secret society of revolutionaries and UllaskarDutt, as the maker of bombs, were given the death penalty (later commuted to transportation for life), seventeen others were given varying terms of imprisonment or transportation and the rest were acquitted.