Rowlatt Act

In 1919 in India, the Rowlatt Act was passed, indefinitely extending wartime “emergency measures” in order to control public unrest and root out conspiracy. “This act effectively authorized the government to imprison without trial, any person suspected of terrorism living in
the Raj (rule).”

“Na Vakeel, Na Daleel, Na Appeal,” was the slogan raised by Indians against the imposition of the Rowlatt Act. In translation it means, “No lawyer, No Trial, No Appeal.”

The Rt. Hon. Srinivasa Sastri, speaking in the Imperial Legislative Council at the introduction of the Rowlatt Bill on February 7, 1919 had this to say:

“When Government undertakes a repressive policy, the innocent are not safe. Men like me would not be considered innocent. The innocent then is he who forswears politics, who takes no part in the public movements of the times, who retires into his house, mumbles his prayers, pays his taxes, and salaams all the government officials all round. The man who interferes in politics, the man who goes about collecting money for any public purpose, the man who addresses a public meeting, then becomes a suspect. I am always on the borderland and I, therefore, for personal reasons, if for nothing else, undertake to say that the possession, in the hands of the Executive, of powers of this drastic nature will not hurt only the wicked. It will hurt the
good as well as the bad, and there will be such a lowering of public spirit, there will be such a lowering of the political tone in the country, that all your talk of responsible government will be mere mockery…”