Brief note on Rowlatt Act, 1919

During the 1st World War, Indians started revolution and movements for forming self-Government. To subdue these movements, the British Government appreciated Justice Sidney Rowlatt. The lawyer Sir S.A.T. Rowlatt formed a five members ‘Sedition Commission’ to tackle these movements and revolts.

It was said in the report of this commission that:

(a) Nationalist newspapers should be banned.

(b) Just on suspicion, any Indian may be arrested and imprisoned for indefinite period and without any trial.

Strong opposition was built up against this Anti-National Act. All the Indian members of the Central Law Committee raised their voices against this Act. Madanmohan Malavya, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Mazhar ul Haque etc. resigned from the committee.

Jinnah said, “The fundamental principle of justice have been imported and the constitutional rights of the people have been unrooted at a time when there is no real danger to the state”.

Surendranath Banerjee and Gandhiji called for an all out movement against this Act. Amrita Bazar Patrika called this Black Act as a ‘gigantic blunder”. So nationwide strike was called by Gandhi on 30th March and 6th April 1919 A.D. Gandhiji sarcastically said “appeal nehi, ukil nehi, dalil nehi”, (there was no advocate, no appeal and no record). Gandhiji called the British rule “Satanism”. So historian Tarachand said, the transformation of a strong believer in non-violence like Gandhiji initiated the moral decline of the British Empire.

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