The Rowlatt Act popularly known as Black Law was enforced in 1919 by the British Government of India. It aimed at crushing the national movement rising in India. The legislation was made based on the advice of the Sedition Committee headed by Sir Sydney Rowlatt. The official name of the Rowlatt Act was The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crime Act of 1919.
What Rowlatt Act Does?
The Rowlatt Act gave power to the police to arrest any person without any reason. The purpose was to control the growing upsurge of nationalists in the country.
This act authorized the government to imprison any person suspected of terrorism living in British India for up to two years without a trial. It also gave sovereign governments the power to deal with all revolutionary activities.
This black law also provided strict power over the press, arrest without warrant, unlimited arrest without trial, and juryless in-camera trials for proscribed political acts.
The accused were refused the right to know the accusers and the evidence used in the trial. Convicted were required to deposit securities upon release and prohibited from taking part in any political, educational, or religious activities.
- The British government was allowed to imprison any Indian in prison without prosecuting him in court.
- The right of the offender to know the name of the person filing the case against him was removed.
- A separate court should be set up for the trial of treason.
- No right to appeal to any High Court after the judgment of the trial.
- In the case of treason, judges have the right to hear without the assistance of a jury.
- The government should have the right to forcefully take away the right to freedom of the press.
- Imprison any person according to his wish or expel him from the country.
The British government wanted to end the personal freedom of Indians to crush the revolutionary activities.
Result of Rowlatt Act
Across the country protesting against the Rowlatt Act started. In its counterclaim, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Madan Mohan Malaviya resigned from the membership of the Central Administrator.
Role of Mahatma Gandhi
In this movement, Mahatma Gandhi actively participated. He decided to use Satyagraha as a weapon against the Rowlatt act. Gandhi Ji called for a general strike. Rowlatt Satyagraha was the first national-level movement by Gandhiji.
On 24 February 1919, Gandhiji organized a “Satyagraha Sabha” in Mumbai and it was decided and declared that the Rowlatt Bills would be opposed on the path of ‘truth’ and ‘non-violence’.
During the strike, there was heavy violence in some cities. Gandhiji withdrew the Satyagraha and said that the people of India are still not ready to remain firm in the subject of non-violence.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
On 13th April, people gathered at Jalliawala Bagh to protest against the arrest of Saifuddin Kichlu and Satyapal. General Dyer, the military commander at Amritsar, fired indiscriminately at the mob. On that day, thousands of people died, including women and children. This unpopular incident is called the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
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