Defence of India Act 1915

The Defence of India Act 1915, also referred to as the Defence of India Regulations Act, was an emergency criminal law enacted by the Governor-General of India in 1915 with the intention of curtailing the nationalist and revolutionary activities during and in the aftermath of the First World War.[1] It was similar to the British Defence of the Realm Acts, and granted the Executive very wide powers of preventive detention, internment without trial, restriction of writing, speech, and of movement. However, unlike the English law which was limited to persons of hostile associations or origin, the Defence of India act could be applied to any subject of the King,[1] and was used to an overwhelming extent against Indians. The passage of the act was supported unanimously by the non-official Indian members in the Viceroy's legislative council, and was seen as necessary to protect against British India from subversive nationalist violence. The act was first applied during the First Lahore Conspiracy trial in the aftermath of the failed Ghadar Conspiracy of 1915, and was instrumental in crushing the Ghadr movement in Punjab and the Anushilan Samiti in Bengal.[2][3] However its widespread and indiscriminate use in stifling genuine political discourse made it deeply unpopular, and became increasingly reviled within India. The extension of the law in the form of the Rowlatt Act after the end of World War I was opposed unanimously by the non-official Indian members of the Viceroy's council. It became a flashpoint of political discontent and nationalist agitation, culminating in the Rowlatt Satyagraha. The act was re-enacted during World War II as Defence of India act 1939. Independent India retained the law in a number of amended forms, which have seen use in proclaimed states of national emergency including Sino-Indian War, Bangladesh crisis, The Emergency of 1975 and subsequently the Punjab insurgency.

Defence of India (Criminal Law Amendment) Act,1915
An Act to provide for special measures to secure the public safety and the defence of British India and for the more speedy trial of certain offences.
CitationAct No.IV of 1915
Territorial extentWhole of British India
Enacted byThe Governor-General in Council
Date signed19 March 1915
Date commenced19 March 1915


Punjab and Bengal, along with Maharashtra, became hotbeds of revolutionary nationalist violence against British rule in India in the first decade of the 20th century. 1905 partition of Bengal and the 1907 colonisation bill in Punjab fed growing discontent. In Bengal, revolutionary organisations like Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar drew young recruits from the educated middle-class Bhadralok ranks, and engaged in a number of prominent attacks on both figures in the administration as well as the local police investigating incidents of robbery, violence and murder linked to these groups. These included assassinations and attempted assassinations of civil servants, prominent public figures and Indian informants. In 1907 attempts were made on the life of the Bengal Lieutenant-Governor Sir Andrew Fraser. In 1908, a failed assassination attempt by Jugantar on the life of Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford led to death of two European women. In 1909, a failed assassination attempt saw two bombs thrown at Lord Minto. In December that year the magistrate of Nasik A. M. T. Jackson was shot dead by Anant Kanhere, and suspicion fell on links to India House in London which was at the time being led by V. D. Savarkar whose elder brother Ganesh had been convicted by Jackson of seditious conspiracy. India House was also held responsible for the murder in London of William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, the political ADC to the secretary of state to India. A number of assassinations were also carried out of approvers who had turned crown-witnesses. In 1909 Naren Gossain, crown-witness for the prosecution in Alipore bomb case, was shot dead within Alipore Jail by Satyendranath Bose and Kanailal Dutt. Ashutosh Biswas, an advocate of Calcutta High Court in charge of prosecution of Gossain murder case, was shot dead within Calcutta High Court in 1909.In 1910, Shamsul Alam, Deputy Superintendent of Bengal Police responsible for investigating the Alipore Bomb case, was shot dead on the steps of Calcutta High Court. In Punjab, agitation against the 1907 colonisation bill attempting to introduce law of primogeniture had stirred agitation. Punjab police had become aware of nuclei of nationalist movements arising in Punjab in the form of the nascent Ghadr movement, fed by resources and efforts of emigrant Sikh communities in Canada.[4] The investigations into the 1912 attempt to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Charles Hardinge, led to the discovery of the links between Bengal revolutionaries led by erstwhile Jugantar member Rash Behari Bose, and Ghadr movement in Punjab.

Early laws

Preventive detention

The Bengal Regulation of 1812 and Regulation III of 1818 were some of the earliest laws in British India to incorporate the provisions of Preventive detention, without having to commit the detainee to trial.[5] In the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay, similar laws had been enacted in 1819 and 1827 respectively.[6] Prisoners under these regulations had no right of habeas corpus.[7] Section 491 of the Criminal Procedure Code introduced the writ of Habeas Corpus in 1882.[7] In 1907, emergency ordinances were issued in Punjab and in Eastern Bengal and Assam on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1857 mutiny. This allowed abolishment of public meetings, and the Indian press was subjected to controls to limit seditious material being published.[4] The Explosive Substances Act and the Newspaper Act were passed in June 1908 to try and arrest agitation.

In June 1907 local governments were further authorised to initiate proceedings against local press publishing seditious material amongst civilian population or the army.[4] The Indian Sociologist was banned in India in September 1907 and in November that year the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act was passed.[8] February 1910 saw the introduction of Indian Press Act which allowed Provincial governments to ask for punitive securities of up to Rs 5,000 from newspapers likely to incite sedition and violence. This act resulted in a number of nationalist publications closing down unable to provide such a surety.[8]

Criminal law amendment 1908

Failure of prosecution in a number of cases under the Criminal procedures act 1898 led to a special act whereby crimes of nationalist violence were to be tried by a special tribunal composed of three high-court judges. December 1908 saw the passage of the Criminal Law amendments under the terms of Regulation III of 1818 and to suppress associations formed for seditious conspiracies.[8] The act was first applied to deport nine Bengali revolutionaries to Mandalay prison in 1908. Despite these measures however, high standards of evidence demanded by the Calcutta High Court, insufficient investigations by police, and at times outright fabrication of evidence led to persistent failure to tame nationalist violence.[9] Police forces felt unable to deal with the operations of secretive nationalist organisations, leading to demands for special powers. These were opposed vehemently in the Indian press, which argued against any extension of already wide powers enjoyed by the police forces in India, and which it was argued was being used to oppress Indian people.[10]

World War I

The First World War began with an unprecedented outpouring of support towards Britain from within the mainstream political leadership, contrary to initial British fears of an Indian revolt. India contributed massively to the British war effort by providing men and resources. About 1.3 million Indian soldiers and labourers served in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while both the Indian government and the princes sent large supplies of food, money and ammunition. However, Bengal and Punjab remained hotbeds of anti colonial activities. After the onset of the First World War, plague, rising grain prices, dissatisfaction with immigration policies within the British empire (highlighted by the Komagata Maru affair), and rumours of British misfortunes in the war meant by 1914, Punjab was in an unsettled state.[11] India lay considerably far away from the Central Powers, with only feasible routes of invasion being through Persia and Afghanistan. The Indian Government at the outset of the war anticipated that India would remain safe as long as Afghanistan maintained neutrality, and the tribes of NWFP were under control.[12] The worst situation would be from a combination of war with Afghanistan and internal unrest fomented by either the Bengali revolutionary network, the Ghadr in Punjab or Indian Muslims who may sympathise with Ottoman Umma.[13]


British intelligence in North America indicated early in the war that the Ghadr Party, co-ordinating with the Berlin Committee in Germany, and the Indian revolutionary underground was attempting to transport men and arms from United States and East Asia into India, intended for a revolution and mutiny in the British Indian Army. From August 1914, a large number of Sikh expatriates began leaving Canada and USA under the plans of the Ghadr leadership for fomenting mutiny in India, whilst in Bengal nationalist crime also increased.[14] Department of Criminal Intelligence chief Charles Cleveland noted that the threat to India should be dealt with by dealing with Ghadr activists who were already in India and those who were returning.[15] To this end, Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914 was passed to limit the influx of Ghadarites,[16] but failed to stem the inflow. The planned mutiny for February 1915 was averted at the last minute.


In the meantime, the situation in Bengal worsened considerably following the Rodda Company raid by Jugantar, which handed large amount of firearms to Bengal revolutionaries. There were 36 outrages in 1915, climbing steeply from 13 in 1913 and 14 in 1914. The revolutionaries launched what has been described by some historians as "a reign of terror in both the cities and the countryside" that "came close to achieving their key goal of paralysing the administration." A general atmosphere of fear encompassed the police and the law courts, severely affecting the moral.[17] In entire 1915, only six revolutionaries were successfully brought to trial.

Defence of India act

On 19 March 1915, Sir Reginald Craddock, home member in the Viceroy's council introduced the law and it passed in a single sitting. It was enacted as a temporary legislation in effect for the duration of World War I and for six months afterwards. The act gave the Governor General in Council the power to make rules

for the purpose of securing the public safety and the defence of British India and as to the powers and duties of public servants and other persons in furtherance of that purpose...

Considerable pressure for the passage of the act was from Michael O'Dwyer particularly in light of the Ghadr threat. Answering to Sir Surendranath Bannerjee in the legislative assembly, Craddock denied any necessity or propriety for the government to constitute an advisory board of judicial character that would deal with the applications of the act.[18] In this regard the law differed from the Defence of the Realm act. Craddock explained to the assembly that the lack of judicial oversight and advice were acceptable since the restrictive measures in the act were "preventive and not punitive in measures".[18]


The law was to be valid for the duration of the war and for six months thereafter "for public safety" and "the defence of British India". The main object of the law made it illegal to communicate with the enemy, obtaining information, spreading false reports, as well as any activities that the government saw prejudicial to the war effort. The act allowed local governments to make rules detain indefinitely,[2] without representation, and to try by special tribunals persons "reasonably suspected" of being of hostile origin or acting in a manner prejudicial to the safety of the empire.[19] committing or conspiring to commit crimes either described in the act, or crimes which maybe punishable by death, transportation or at least seven year imprisonment.[20] Power of detention, unlike under DORA, was carried by subordinate officers. For Trials already initiated under the Criminal procedures act 1898 or the 1908 Criminal law amendment were exempt from the act. Prosecution was to follow the procedures prescribed in the criminal procedures act 1898, but was superseded by the special powers and discretion of court. Crucially however, the Commissioners could take direct cognisance of the offences alleged and therefore preliminary procedures could be disposed off with.


The act gave powers to local government to appoint three commissioners for trials who may be below the status of high-court judges. At least two would be Sessions judges or additional sessions judges for at least three years, were qualified for appointment as Judges of a High Court, or advocates of a Chief Court or pleaders of ten years' standing. A majority verdict was acceptable.

The act allowed the commissioners to accept as evidence statements recorded by a magistrates without scrutiny to cross examination and superseded the standards of evidence proscribed in the Indian evidence act 1872. Further the act allowed commissioners to accept such recorded evidence where the witness was unavailable or dead. This measure was intended to secure and safeguard against intimidation and assassinations by revolutionaries of approvers. There was no right to trial by jury. The act excluded from appeal or judicial review the decisions of the commissioners appointed under the Defence of India act.

Although designed to maintain order and curtail revolutionary movement, the law was in practice used in widespread scale from limiting revolutionaries, through arresting perpetrators of religious violence, to curtailing the voice of moderate political leaders.[21] Unlike the Defence of the Realm Act (which was limited in scope to people of Hostile origin or associations, i.e. enemy citizens or collaborators), the act could be applied against any subject of the King. By June 1917, 705 were under home-arrest under the act, along with 99 imprisonments under Regulation III.[3] Through the war, more than 1400 people were interned in India under the Defence of India Act alone, and a further three hundred subjected to minor restrictions, while more than two thousand were subjected to the restrictions of the Ingress into India Ordinance.[22]


At the time of its enactment, the Defence of India act received universal support from Indian non-officiating members in the Governor General's council, from moderate leaders within Indian Political Movement. The British war effort had received popular support within India and the act received support on the understanding that the measures enacted were necessary in the war-situation. Its application saw a significant curtailment in revolutionary violence in India. However, the wide scope and widespread use amongst general population and against even moderate leaders led to growing revulsion within Indian population.

Revolutionary violence

The enactment of the law saw 46 executions and 64 life sentences handed out to revolutionaries in Bengal and Punjab in the Lahore Conspiracy Trial and Benares Conspiracy Trial, and in tribunals in Bengal,[2] effectively crushing the revolutionary movement. The power of preventive detention were however applied more particularly to Bengal. By March 1916 widespread arrests helped Bengal Police crush the Dhaka Anushilan Samiti in Calcutta.[3] Regulation III and Defence of India act was applied to Bengal from August 1916 on a wide scale. In Bengal, revolutionary violence in Bengal plummeted to 10 in 1917.[2] By the end of the war there were more than eight hundred interned in Bengal under the act.

Moderate dissent

The application of the act was not limited to those suspected of revolutionary crimes. It gradually came to be used in coercing and suppressing the voice of many nationalist leaders, even of moderate views, where regional administration felt their opinion or views were seditious to British rule in India, or dangerous to the administration.[23] A number of prominent moderate leaders were interned or deported under the Defence of India act. Most notable of these leaders was Mrs Annie Besant. Beasant had set up branches of the Home Rule League in major towns and cities at the time Bal Gangadhar Tilak was establishing the league in Bombay and in Western India. Although these amounted to little more than debating societies (having been modelled on the Fabian Societies), the leagues were noted to be publishing political pamphlets, selling alm ost 46000 of these in 1916. Libraries were also established where political treatises were made available. Beasant's league had 27000 members by 1917, and that same year both Tilak and Beasant were interned under the act on the grounds their activities were becoming subversive. India. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali were arrested and interned after they were found to have been in liaison with individuals in Kabul linked to the German mission, which the administration suspected may have been to promulgate a pan-Indian Islamic revolution.[23] Abul Kalam Azad was deported from Bengal and placed under house arrest in Ranchi for his writing in Al Balagh.


The Defence of India Act, in its implementation, was increasingly reviled. The unpopularity was such that the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in 1917 passed a resolution expressing alarm at the extensive use of the act, and urged the Government that its use be under same principles as the Defence of the Realm Act.[24] Immediately after the war, Benjamin Horniman was deported from the Presidency of Bombay for his reporting on the Amritsar massacre.

Later laws

Rowlatt act

With the impending lapse of the 1915 act, the Rowlatt Committee was appointed to recommend measures to deal with the threat from the revolutionary movement. Rowlatt recommended an extension of the provisions of the Defence of India act for a further three years with removal of habeas corpus provisions. It was met with universal opposition by the Indian members of the Viceroy's council, as well within the population in general, earning the title of "The Black Bills" from Mohandas Gandhi. Mohammed Ali Jinnah left the Viceroy's council in protest, after having warned the council of the dangerous consequences of enacting an extension of such an unpopular bill. Rowlatt's recommendations were enacted in the Rowlatt Bills. The agitations against the proposed Rowlatt bills took shape as the Rowlatt Satyagraha under the leadership of Gandhi, one of the first Civil disobedience movements that he would lead the Indian independence movement. The protests saw hartals in Delhi, public protests in Punjab as well as other protest movements across India. In Punjab, protests against the bills, along with a perceived threat of a Ghadrite uprising by the Punjab regional government culminated in the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre in April 1919. After nearly three years of agitation, the government finally repealed the Rowlatt act and its component sister acts.

1939 act

The Defence of India act 1915 was re-enacted in a more severe form at the onset of World War II as the Defence of India act 1939. It was enacted on 29 September 1939 but deemed to come into force from 3 September 1939, the day when the Second World War began. The act was used notoriously during the war in subduing the independence movement. It expired six months after the termination of the war and was ultimately repealed by the Repealing and Amending Act,1947(Act II of 1948).

Independent India

The Indian Constitution retained the principles of preventive detention encapsulated in the Defence of India act, making one of the few countries were citizens of the country may be subjected to such measures. In Independent India, the law retained in legislations in the form of Preventive Detention act 1950, and has seen implementation as the Defence of India Rules 1962 during the Sino-Indian War of 1962, and the Defence of India Act,1971 during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The 1962 act gained notoriety for its use in internment of Chinese immigrants in India, most notably Calcutta. Other similar laws enacted in independent India include the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during The Emergency, and [25] Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (enacted during the Punjab insurgency) which carry very similar provisions.


  1. ^ a b Horniman 1984, p. 44
  2. ^ a b c d Bates 2007, p. 118
  3. ^ a b c Popplewell 1995, p. 210
  4. ^ a b c Riddick 2006, p. 92
  5. ^
  6. ^ Patel 1995, p. 532
  7. ^ a b Ghosh 1995, p. 398
  8. ^ a b c Riddick 2006, p. 93
  9. ^ Horniman 1984, p. 42
  10. ^ Horniman 1984, p. 43
  11. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 171
  12. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 165
  13. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 166
  14. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 160
  15. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 161
  16. ^ Kannabiran & Singh 2009, p. 235
  17. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 201
  18. ^ a b Samaddara 2007, p. 94
  19. ^ Halliday, Karpik & Feeley(2012), pp. 63
  20. ^ "A collection of the acts passed by the Governor General of Indian in Council in the year 1915. Records of Indian Law Ministry" (PDF). Indian Ministry of Law & Justice. Superintendent Government Printing. 1916. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  21. ^ Horniman 1984, p. 45
  22. ^ "PERSONS INTERNED.". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 22 October 1919. col. 52-3W.
  23. ^ a b Bates 2007, p. 119
  24. ^ Pasrisha & Bharati 2009, p. 85
  25. ^ Desai 1991, p. 233


  • Ghosh, S.K. (1995), Terrorism, World Under Siege, Ashish Publishing House, ISBN 8170246652
  • Horniman, B. G. (1984), British Administration & The Amritsar Massacre, Delhi: Mittal Publications, OCLC 12553945
  • Lovett, Sir Verney (1920), A History of the Indian Nationalist Movement, New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company, ISBN 81-7536-249-9
  • Kannabiran, Kalpana; Singh, Ranbir (200), Challenging The Rules(s) of Law: Colonialism, Criminology and Human Rights in India., SAGE Publications Inc., ISBN 9780761936657
  • Ilbert, Courtenay (1917), British India (in Review of Legislation, 1915; British Empire).Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, New Ser., Vol. 17. (1917), pp. 132-139., New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company, ISSN 1479-5973
  • Patel, Vitalbhai J. (1995), Selected Works of Vithalbhai J. Patel: 1925-1926, Mittal Publications, ISBN 8170994209
  • Popplewell, Richard J. (1995), Intelligence and Imperial Defence: British Intelligence and the Defence of the Indian Empire 1904–1924, Routledge, ISBN 0-7146-4580-X
  • Riddick, John (2006), The History of British India: A Chronology, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 9780313322808
  • Sammadara, Ranbir (2007), The Materiality of Politics. Vol. 1, Anthem Press, ISBN 9781843312512
  • Halliday, Terrence C.; Lucien Karpik (2012). Malcolm M. Feeley, ed. Fates of Political Liberalism in Post-British Colony: The Politics of the Legal Complex (google books) (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-107-01278-3. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
Anushilan Samiti

Anushilan Samiti (Ōnūshīlōn sōmītī, lit: body-building society) was a Bengali Indian organisation that existed in the first quarter of the twentieth century, and propounded revolutionary violence as the means for ending British rule in India. The organisation arose from a conglomeration of local youth groups and gyms (Akhara) in Bengal in 1902. It had two prominent, if somewhat independent, arms in East and West Bengal identified as Dhaka Anushilan Samiti centred in Dhaka (modern day Bangladesh), and the Jugantar group (centred at Calcutta) respectively.

From its foundation to its gradual dissolution during the 1930s, the Samiti challenged British rule in India by engaging in militant nationalism, including bombings, assassinations, and politically-motivated violence. During its existence, the Samiti collaborated with other revolutionary organisations in India and abroad. It was led by nationalists such as Aurobindo Ghosh and his brother Barindra Ghosh, and influenced by philosophies as diverse as Hindu Shakta philosophy propounded by Bengali literaetuer Bankim and Vivekananda, Italian Nationalism, and Pan-Asianism of Kakuzo Okakura. The Samiti was involved in a number of noted incidences of revolutionary attacks against British interests and administration in India within the decade of its founding, including early attempts to assassinate Raj officials whilst led by the Ghosh brothers. These were followed by the 1912 attempt on the life of the Viceroy of India, and the Sedetious conspiracy during World War I led by Rash Behari Bose and Jatindranath Mukherjee respectively.

The organisation moved away from its philosophy of violence in the 1920s, when a number of its members identified closely with the Congress and Gandhian non-violent movement, but a section of the group, notably under Sachindranath Sanyal, remained active in revolutionary movement, founding the Hindustan Republican Association in north India. A number of Congress leaders from Bengal, especially Subhash Chandra Bose, were accused by the British Government of having links with, and allowing patronage to, the organisation during this time.

The organisation's violent and radical philosophy revived in the 1930s, when it was involved in the Kakori conspiracy, the Chittagong armoury raid, and other attempts against the administration in British India and Raj officials.

Shortly after its inception, the organisation became the focus of an extensive police and intelligence operation which led to the founding of the Special branch of the Calcutta Police. Notable officers who led the police and intelligence operations against the Samiti at various times included Sir Robert Nathan, Sir Harold Stuart, Sir Charles Stevenson-Moore and Sir Charles Tegart. The threat posed by the activities of the Samiti in Bengal during World War I, along with the threat of a Ghadarite uprising in Punjab, led to the passage of Defence of India Act 1915. These measures enabled the arrest, internment, transportation and execution of a number of revolutionaries linked to the organisation, which crushed the East Bengal Branch. In the aftermath of the war, the Rowlatt committee recommended extending the Defence of India Act (as the Rowlatt Act) to thwart any possible revival of the Samiti in Bengal and the Ghadarite movement in Punjab. After the war, the activities of the party led to implementation of the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment in the early 1920s, which reinstated the powers of incarceration and detention from the Defence of India Act. However, the Anushilan Samiti gradually disseminated into the Gandhian movement. Some of its members left for the Indian National Congress then led by Subhas Chandra Bose, while others identified more closely with Communism. The Jugantar branch formally dissolved in 1938. In independent India, the party in West Bengal evolved into the Revolutionary Socialist Party, while the Eastern Branch later evolved into the Shramik Krishak Samajbadi Dal (Workers and Peasants Socialist Party) in present-day Bangladesh.

Batukeshwar Dutt

Batukeshwar Dutt pronunciation (1910–1965) was an Indian Bengali revolutionary and independence fighter in the early 1900s. He is best known for having exploded a few bombs, along with Bhagat Singh, in the Central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi on 8 April 1929. After they were arrested, tried and imprisoned for life, he and Bhagat Singh initiated a historic hunger strike protesting against the abusive treatment of Indian political prisoners, and eventually secured some rights for them. He was also a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.

British counter-intelligence against the Indian revolutionary movement during World War I

British counter-intelligence against the Indian revolutionary movement during World War I began from its initial roots in the late-19th century and ultimately came to span in extent from Asia through Europe to the West Coast of the United States and Canada. It was effective in thwarting a number of attempts for insurrection in British India during World War I and ultimately in controlling the Indian revolutionary movement both at home and abroad.

Defence of India Act, 1939

The Defence of India Act, 1939 (No.35) was an Act passed by the Central Legislature on the 29th day of September, 1939 which effectively declared martial law in India.

Although it was enacted on 29 September 1939 it was deemed to come into force from 3 September 1939, the day when the Second World War began. It provided the Viceroy to make rules for the safety of British India and to provide punishments in case of any contraventions which included that of death or transportation for life if the intent was to assist any State at war with His Majesty or that of waging war against His Majesty. It provided for Special Courts against whose verdict nobody can appeal from, and these Courts may decide to hold the trial in camera. It also provided for the acquisition of land for purposes of defence and it provided compensation for the land acquired. It expired six months after the termination of the war and was ultimately repealed by the Repealing and Amending Act, 1947 (Act II of 1948).

Defence of India act

Defence of India act may refer to

Defence of India Act 1915, an emergency criminal law enacted in British India in 1915 as measures against the threat of Indian revolutionary nationalism during World War I.

Defence of India Act, 1939, enacted in British India in September 1939 effectively declaring martial law at the onset of World War II.

Defence of India act and Defence of India rules, 1962, enacted in independent India during the Sino-Indian war of 1962.

Defence of India Act, 1971, enacted in independent India in December 1971 at the onset of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Defence of India act and Defence of India rules, 1962

The Defence of India act and Defence of India rules, 1962 were a set of emergency war-time legislations for preventive detention enacted in October 1962 India during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. It was initially promulgated as a Presidential ordinance, the Defence of India Ordinance, 1962 on 28 October that year under the authority of which the Defence of India Rules were enacted. In December 1962, the Indian Parliament enacted the Defence of India act, 1962 which consolidated the continued application of the ordinance as law. The act consisted of 156 rules that "regulated virtually all aspects of life" including travel, finance, trade, communication, publication etc and were essentially identical to the Defence of India act, 1939 enacted during World War II. The act suspended the Fundamental rights of any person held under the act, and specifically Rule 30 of the act allowed the government to hold any person in detention without explanation suspending the right under the article 22 of Constitution of India, without the right to representation, and without the provisions of Habeas corpus.

The act was infamous in having been used on a widespread scale against Indians of Chinese ethnicity during and after the war, many of whom were taken from their homes, mainly from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, to a detention centre in Deoli, in the state of Delhi.

Ghadar Mutiny

The Ghadar Mutiny (: ग़दर राज्य-क्रान्ति, غدر ریاست - کرانتی Ġadara Rājya-krānti), also known as the Ghadar Conspiracy, was a plan to initiate a pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army in February 1915 to end the British Raj in India. The plot originated at the onset of the First World War, between the Ghadar Party in the United States, the Berlin Committee in Germany, the Indian revolutionary underground in British India and the German Foreign Office through the consulate in San Francisco. The incident derives its name from the North American Ghadar Party, whose members of the Punjabi Sikh community in Canada and United States were among the most prominent participants in the plan. It was the most prominent amongst a number of plans of the much larger Hindu–German Mutiny, formulated between 1914 and 1917 to initiate a Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I. The mutiny was planned to start in the key state of Punjab, followed by mutinies in Bengal and rest of India. Indian units as far as Singapore were planned to participate in the rebellion. The plans were thwarted through a coordinated intelligence and police response. British intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement in Canada and in India, and last minute intelligence from a spy helping to crush the planned uprising in Punjab before it started. Key figures were arrested, mutinies in smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.

Intelligence about the threat of the mutiny led to a number of important war-time measures introduced in India, including the passages of Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914, the Foreigners act 1914, and the Defence of India Act 1915. The conspiracy was followed by the First Lahore Conspiracy Trial and Benares Conspiracy Trial which saw death sentences awarded to a number of Indian revolutionaries, and exile to a number of others. After the end of the war, fear of a second Ghadarite uprising led to the recommendations of the Rowlatt Acts and thence the Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre.

Hindustan Ghadar

The Hindustan Ghadar (Hindi: हिन्दुस्तान ग़दर, Punjabi: ਹਿੰਦੁਸਤਾਨ ਗ਼ਦਰ, Urdu: ہِندُوستان غدر) was a weekly publication that was the party organ of the Ghadar Party. It was published under the auspices of the Yugantar Ashram (Advent of a New Age Ashram) in San Francisco. Its purpose was to further the militant nationalist faction of the Indian independence movement, especially amongst Indian sepoys of the British Indian Army.

In 1912–1913, the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association was formed by Indian immigrants under the leadership of Har Dayal, with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president, which later came to be called the Ghadar Party. With donations raised with the help of the Indian diaspora, especially with the aid of Indian students at the University of California, Berkeley, the party established the Yugantar Ashram at 436 Hill Street where a printing press was set up with the donations. The first Urdu edition of Hindustan Ghadar appeared on 1 November 1913, followed by a Punjabi edition 9 December 1913.

The issues were first handwritten before being printed on the press. Careful measures were taken to shield the party and its supporters from British intelligence, which included the measure of memorising over a thousand names of the subscribers so that no incriminating evidence could fall into the hands of the British government.

The articles in the paper were initially authored by Har Dayal, with the printing operation run by Kartar Singh Sarabha, then a student of UC Berkeley. Copies of the paper began to be shipped to India with returning Ghadarites and immigrants, and were quickly deemed to be seditious and banned by the British Indian government. Later publications from the Yugantar Ashram included compilations of nationalist compositions and pamphlets, including Ghadar di gunj, Talwar and other publications which were also banned from British India.

Hindu–German Conspiracy

The Hindu–German Conspiracy(Note on the name) was a series of plans between 1914 and 1917 by Indian nationalist groups to attempt Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I, formulated between the Indian revolutionary underground and exiled or self-exiled nationalists who formed, in the United States, the Ghadar Party, and in Germany, the Indian independence committee, in the decade preceding the Great War. The conspiracy was drawn up at the beginning of the war, with extensive support from the German Foreign Office, the German consulate in San Francisco, as well as some support from Ottoman Turkey and the Irish republican movement. The most prominent plan attempted to foment unrest and trigger a Pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army from Punjab to Singapore. This plot was planned to be executed in February 1915 with the aim of overthrowing British rule over the Indian subcontinent. The February mutiny was ultimately thwarted when British intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement and arrested key figures. Mutinies in smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.

Other related events include the 1915 Singapore Mutiny, the Annie Larsen arms plot, the Jugantar–German plot, the German mission to Kabul, the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in India, as well as, by some accounts, the Black Tom explosion in 1916. Parts of the conspiracy included efforts to subvert the British Indian Army in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I.

The Indo-German alliance and the conspiracy were the target of a worldwide British intelligence effort, which was successful in preventing further attempts. American intelligence agencies arrested key figures in the aftermath of the Annie Larsen affair in 1917. The conspiracy resulted in the Lahore conspiracy case trials in India as well as the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial—at the time the longest and most expensive trial ever held in the United States.This series of events was consequential to the Indian independence movement. Though largely subdued by the end of World War I, it came to be a major factor in reforming the Raj's Indian policy. Similar efforts were made during World War II in Germany and in Japanese-controlled Southeast Asia, where Subhas Chandra Bose formed the Indische Legion and the Indian National Army respectively, and in Italy where Mohammad Iqbal Shedai formed the Battaglione Azad Hindoustan.

Impact of the Hindu–German Conspiracy

The Hindu–German Conspiracy failed to engage popular support within India. However, it had a significant impact on Britain's policies both in the empire, as well as on her international relations. The outlines and plans for the nascent ideas of the conspiracy were noted and began to be tracked by the British intelligence as early as 1911. Alarmed at the agile organisation, which repeatedly reformed at different parts of the country despite being subdued in others, the chief of Indian Intelligence Sir Charles Cleveland was forced to warn that the idea and attempt at pan-Indian revolutions were spreading through India "like some hidden fire". A massive, concerted and coordinated effort was required to subdue the movement. Attempts were made in 1914 to prevent the naturalisation of Tarak Nath Das as an American citizen, while successful pressure was applied to have Har Dayal interned. The conspiracy had been detected early by British intelligence, and had been the subject of strong British pressure from 1914.

Indian independence movement

The Indian independence movement was a series of activities whose ultimate aim was to end the British Raj and encompassed activities and ideas aiming to end the East India Company rule (1757–1857) and the British Raj (1857–1947) in the Indian subcontinent. The movement spanned a total of 90 years (1857–1947) considering movement against British Indian Empire. The Indian Independence movement includes both protest (peaceful and non-violent) and militant (violent) mechanisms to root out British Administration from India.

The first organised militant movements were in Bengal, but they later took root in the newly formed Indian National Congress with prominent moderate leaders seeking only their basic right to appear for Indian Civil Service (British India) examinations, as well as more rights, economic in nature, for the people of the soil. The early part of the 20th century saw a more radical approach towards political self-rule proposed by leaders such as the Lal, Bal, Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai. The last stages of the self-rule struggle from the 1920s onwards saw Congress adopt Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's policy of nonviolence and civil disobedience, and several other campaigns. Nationalists like Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Bagha Jatin, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar preached armed revolution to achieve self-rule. Poets and writers such as Subramania Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Iqbal, Josh Malihabadi, Mohammad Ali Jouhar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Kazi Nazrul Islam used literature, poetry and speech as a tool for political awareness. Feminists such as Sarojini Naidu and Begum Rokeya promoted the emancipation of Indian women and their participation in national politics. B. R. Ambedkar championed the cause of the disadvantaged sections of Indian society within the larger self-rule movement. The period of the Second World War saw the peak of the campaigns by the Quit India Movement led by Congress, and the Indian National Army movement led by Subhas Chandra Bose.

The Indian self-rule movement was a mass-based movement that encompassed various sections of society. It also underwent a process of constant ideological evolution. Although the basic ideology of the movement was anti-colonial, it was supported by a vision of independent capitalist economic development coupled with a secular, democratic, republican, and civil-libertarian political structure. After the 1930s, the movement took on a strong socialist orientation, owing to the influence of Bhagat Singh's demand of Purna Swaraj (Complete Self-Rule). The work of these various movements led ultimately to the Indian Independence Act 1947, which ended the suzerainty in India and the creation of Pakistan. India remained a Dominion of the Crown until 26 January 1950, when the Constitution of India came into force, establishing the Republic of India; Pakistan was a dominion until 1956, when it adopted its first republican constitution. In 1971, East Pakistan declared independence as the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914

The Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914 was a law passed in British India in September 1914, at the outset of World War I, which allowed the Government of India to screen, detain, and restrict the movement of people returning to India.The main aim of the act was to detain and restrict Sikh immigrants who were returning from Canada and the United States under plans made by the Ghadar Party to initiate rebellion against British rule in India with help from Germany. It was first applied against the passengers of the Komagata Maru upon her arrival at Calcutta, and subsequently against Ghadarites who attempted to return to India through other ports throughout the war. The ordinance was also used to detain and deport suspected Ghadarites as far away as Shanghai back to their villages in Punjab for internment.Coordinating with British Intelligence services in North America led by W.C. Hopkinson, the authorities in India were able to compile lists of suspected Ghadarites who had set sail from North America for India, and passengers disembarking at Indian ports were subjected to the ordinance. As a uniform rule all emigrants from North America as well as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Manila were restricted.The ordinance was preceded and applied with a similar ordinance, the Foreigners Ordinance, which restricted the liberty of foreigners attempting to enter British India in a similar manner. Along with the Defence of India Act 1915, the ordinance was applied in a large scale throughout the war to stave off the threat from the revolutionary movement in India.The Rowlatt Committee estimated that between 1914 and 1917, the ordinance was used to intern nearly three hundred people, while a further two thousand two hundred were restricted to their villages, mainly in Punjab.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Punjabis, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. The Rowlatt Act, 1919 had been implemented, but the civilians were not informed. The civilians had assembled for a festival known as Baisakhi. Baisakhi marks the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. It is additionally a spring harvest festival for the Sikhs. It is also stated that it marks peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. Raja Ram has argued, however, that the Proclamation was ineffective, the crowd formed in deliberate defiance and the event signals a beginning of Indian nationalism.The Jallianwalla Bagh is a public garden of 6 to 7 acres (2.8 ha), walled on all sides, with five entrances.On Sunday, 13 April 1919, Dyer was convinced of a major insurrection and he banned all meetings; however this notice was not widely disseminated. That was the day of Baisakhi, the main Sikh festival, and many villagers had gathered in the Bagh. On hearing that a meeting had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, Dyer went with Sikh, Gurkha, Baluchi, Rajput troops from 2-9th Gurkhas, the 54th Sikhs and the 59th Sind Rifles they entered the garden, blocking the main entrance after them, took up position on a raised bank, and on Dyer's orders fired on the crowd for about ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to flee, until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted. Dyer stated that approximately 1,650 rounds had been fired, a number apparently derived by counting empty cartridge cases picked up by the troops. Official British Indian sources gave a figure of 379 identified dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded. This figure was given by Dyer himself in the letter he wrote to the British parliament. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500 injured, with approximately 1,000 dead. This "brutality stunned the entire nation", resulting in a "wrenching loss of faith" of the general public in the intentions of the UK. The ineffective inquiry and the initial accolades for Dyer by the House of Lords fuelled widespread anger, later leading to the Non-cooperation Movement of 1920–22.Dyer was initially lauded by conservative forces in the empire, but in July 1920 he was censured and forced to retire by the House of Commons. He became a celebrated hero in the UK among most of the people connected to the British Raj, for example, the House of Lords, but unpopular in the House of Commons, which voted against Dyer as a Colonel. He was disciplined by being removed from his appointment, was passed over for promotion and was prohibited from further employment in India. Upon his death, Rudyard Kipling declared that Dyer 'did his duty as he saw it'. . This incident shocked Rabindranath Tagore (first Asian Nobel laureate) to such extent that he stated whilst refusing his knighthood that "such mass murderers aren't worthy of giving any title to anyone". The massacre some historians have argued caused a re-evaluation of the army's role, in which the new policy became minimum force; however, later British actions during the Mau Mau insurgencies have led Huw Bennett to question this school of thought. The army was retrained and developed less violent tactics for crowd control. Some historians consider the episode a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.

Lahore Conspiracy Case trial

The Lahore Conspiracy Case trial, also known as the First Lahore Conspiracy Case, were the trials held in Lahore (then part of the undivided Punjab of British India) in the aftermath of the failed Ghadar conspiracy in 1915. The trial was held by a Special tribunal constituted under the Defence of India Act 1915. Out of a total of 291 convicted conspirators, 42 were executed, 114 got life sentences and 93 got varying terms of imprisonment. 42 defendants in the trial were acquitted. The uncovering of the conspiracy also saw the initiation of the Hindu German Conspiracy trial in the United States.

Revolutionary movement for Indian independence

The Revolutionary movement for Indian independence is a part of the Indian independence movement comprising the actions of the underground revolutionary factions. Groups believing in armed revolution against the ruling British fall into this category, as opposed to the generally peaceful civil disobedience movement spearheaded by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The revolutionary groups were mainly concentrated in Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, the United Provinces and Punjab. More groups were scattered across India.

Rowlatt Act

The Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919 , popularly known as the Rowlatt Act or Black Act, was a legislative act passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi on 10 March 1919, indefinitely extending the emergency measures of preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without trial and judicial review enacted in the Defence of India Act 1915 during the First World War. It was enacted in light of a perceived threat from revolutionary nationalist organisations of re-engaging in similar conspiracies as during the war which the Government felt the lapse of the DIRA regulations would enable.

Passed on the recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee and named after its president, British judge Sir Sidney Rowlatt, this act effectively authorized the government to imprison any person suspected of terrorism living in British India for up to two years without a trial, and gave the imperial authorities power to deal with all revolutionary activities.

The unpopular legislation provided for stricter control of the press, arrests without warrant, indefinite detention without trial, and juryless in camera trials for proscribed political acts. The accused were denied the right to know the accusers and the evidence used in the trial. Those convicted were required to deposit securities upon release, and were prohibited from taking part in any political, educational, or religious activities.

On the report of the committee, headed by Justice Rowlatt, two bills were introduced in the central legislature in February 1919. These bills came to be known as "black bills". They gave enormous powers to the police to search a place and arrest any person they disapproved of without warrant. Despite much opposition, the Rowlatt Act was passed in March 1919. The purpose of the act was to curb the growing nationalist upsurge in the country.

Mahatma Gandhi, among other Indian leaders, was extremely critical of the Act and argued that not everyone should be punished in response to isolated political crimes. The Act angered many Indian leaders and the public, which caused the government to implement repressive measures. Gandhi and others thought that constitutional opposition to the measure was fruitless, so on 6 April, a hartal was organised where Indians would suspend all business and would fast, pray and hold public meetings against the 'Black Act' as a sign of their opposition and civil disobedience would be offered against the law. This event was known as the Non-cooperation movement.

However, the success of the hartal in Delhi, on 30 March, was overshadowed by tensions running high, which resulted in rioting in the Punjab and other provinces. Deciding that Indians were not ready to make a stand consistent with the principle of nonviolence, an integral part of satyagraha, Gandhi suspended the resistance.

The Rowlatt Act came into effect in March 1919. In the Punjab the protest movement was very strong, and on 10 April two leaders of the congress, Dr. Satya Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, were arrested and taken secretly to Dharamsala.

The army was called into Punjab, and on 13 April people from neighbouring villages gathered for Baisakhi Day celebrations and to protest against deportion of two important Indian leaders in Amritsar, which led to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919.Accepting the report of the Repressive Laws Committee, the Government of India repealed the Rowlatt Act, the Press Act, and twenty-two other laws in March 1922. The government passed the rotary of the accordance with the recommendation of this committee.

Rowlatt Committee

The Rowlatt Committee was a Sedition Committee appointed in 1917 by the British Indian Government with Sidney Rowlatt, an English judge, as its president.

Sidney Rowlatt

Sir Sidney Arthur Taylor Rowlatt, KCSI (20 July 1862 – 1 March 1945) was an English lawyer and judge, best remembered for his controversial presidency of the Rowlatt Committee, a sedition committee appointed in 1918 by the British Indian Government to evaluate the links between political terrorism in India, especially Bengal and the Punjab, and the German government and the Bolsheviks in Russia. The committee gave rise to the Rowlatt Act, an extension of the Defence of India Act 1915

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle was an Indian revolutionary and a member of the Ghadar Party who was one of those executed in 1915 following the Lahore conspiracy trial for his role in the Ghadar conspiracy.

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