Defence of India Act 1915

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 British Raj in India in 1915 with the intention of curtailing the nationalist and revolutionary activities during and in the aftermath of World War I. It would later be applied during the First Lahore Conspiracy trial in the aftermath of the failed Ghadar Conspiracy of 1915. The act, after the end of World War I, formed the basis of the Rowlatt Act.

The law, Defence of India (Criminal Law Amendment) Act, 1915 (No.4) was analogous to the British Defence of the Realm Acts and was passed though all its stages in the Legislative council on 18 March 1915. 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...

Contraventions of the rules were punishable by a fine, or imprisonment of up to seven years, or both, or, if the intention of the contravener was to assist the "King's enemies" or wage war against the King, punishments could be heavier, including death.

Sections of the law could be applied in particular provinces by notification of the Governor General in council and were included in the act for Punjab and Bengal. These sections empowered the local administration to set up special courts consisting of three commissioners with power to try for certain offences and with no right to appeal.

See also


  • Lovett, Sir Verney (1920), A History of the Indian Nationalist Movement, New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company, ISBN 81-7536-249-9 
  • 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: 14795973 

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