This report was penned by a committee chaired by Sir Sydney Rowlatt, a judge of the High Court in London. The evidence and the other material for the report were collected in camera sessions.
And it was on the basis of this report a new bill was prepared by the government for enactment. The bill envisaged to bring all suspected revolutionaries or rebels or those who indulged in revolt against the government before a judicial board, in stead of a regular court, and to detain them in custody or prison or exiled.
If enacted, hundreds of people already involved in politico-criminal cases would be denied fair trial and natural justice. It would curtail civil liberties at their roots and freedom would be a far cry.
Gandhi came to know of the Rowlatt Report and the Bill while in sick-bed in Sabarmati
. Vallabha bhai Patel who became Gandhi’s disciple, and later on Free India’s first Home Minister, used to visit Gandhi every day. He asked Gandhi what should be done with respect to the Rowlatt Report and the Bill. Gandhi’s suggestion was to oppose it by launching Satyagraha
. A band of people should volunteer themselves ready to undertake this ordeal, Gandhi said.