The Argus at KellyGang 28/2/1879

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Of course at Beechworth, on Tuesday, it was only natural that the legal gentleman who appeared on behalf of the alleged Kelly sympathisers should talk at large about the infringement of the liberty of the subject involved in the arrests. Now, in our regard for the liberty of the subject and in our appreciation of the value which attaches to a strict compliance with the forms of legal procedure, we come behind no man. But no one should let his love for either one or the other run away with his common sense. Liberty and law are intended to be blessings to society, and were never de signed to confer on any scoundrel the light of baffling honest men, and escaping the punishment due to his offences. In administering the law a very large discretion is properly given to the judiciary, but there are limits beyond which it cannot go in administering the law. When, then, any law is likely to lead to a failure of justice it is the duty of the Executive to repeal that law or suspend its operation. In the present case there can be no doubt that the right of every subject to sue out a writ of habeas corpus is a great obstacle in the way of dealing effectually with the Kelly sympathisers.

The police may entertain a positive assurance that A, B, or C is in communication with the gang, but in the present dis turbed state of the public mind they cannot, perhaps, lay then hands on evidence which would satisfy a court of justice. This has been the excuse offered by successive superintendents and inspectors of police when asking for repeated remands. If the fact that such would be the case was not foreseen before Parliament was prorogued, there can be no doubt that was the duty of the Government to, hold a special session for the purpose of suspending the right of habeas corpus in the north eastern district directly it became apparent. It is on account of the difficulties, we presume, which this right places in their way that the police have consented to the discharge of some prisoners whom they must have thought it desirable to hold. Unless the police are totally unfit for their work, the suspension alluded to would have no terrors for respectable people.

They would go about then business as usual unmolested, and only a few ruffians of the ISAIAH WRIGHT stamp-he has publicly threatened the Beechworth police magistrate with violence if he ever regains his liberty-would be kept out of harm's way and from impeding the course of public justice. If this could be done legally, only those who think more of the forms of freedom than its substance would object. That it cannot be so done, is entirely the fault of a Government that is too indifferent or too much swayed by considerations of party convenience, to ask Parliament for the necessary powers.


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