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‘Rani Ka Hookum’
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The Empire Builders
For God and Country

‘Rani Ka Hookum’

In 1869, 75-year-old Ameer Khan was arrested in Calcutta on the suspicion of being a Wahabi a member of a sect hostile to the government. Captain Birch who took Ameer Khan into custody produced no warrant of arrest. He told the old man that he was only carrying out Rani ka Hookum (the queen's orders). Subsequently he was shifted to a jail outside Calcutta. Similary, another person, Hashmadad Khan was also detained outside Calcutta.
Ameer Khan and Hashmadad Khan challenged their detention. Their case was fought by the fiery Irish lawyer, Thomas Chisholm Anstey who moved a Habeas Corpus petition before Justice Norman at the Calcutta High Court demanding that his clients be brought to the court.
Advocate-General Graham told the court that Ameer Khan and Hashmadad Khan were taken prisoners under Regulation III of 1818 under which suspects could be detained indefinitely without trial.
Thomas Anstey sought to establish that Regulation III of 1818 was illegal as detention without trial deprived citizens of the rights conferred on them by the Magna Carta.
Citing the queen's proclamation of November 1858 Anstey asked: "Are the people of India the subjects of Her Majesty, the Queen? Are they equals of their British fellow subjects as the queen has stated…?"
Anstey concluded his argument with these prophetic words: "If then, your Lordship's decision be against us, I say it with grief, there will be no other remedy left to any man of spirit, whatever be his race, creed or colour except open rebellion."
Justice Norman, however, upheld the validity of Regulation III and held that the provisions of Habeas Corpus did not apply to those detained under Regulation III for security reasons.
However, Justice Norman upheld the rights of Indians to invoke the Habeas Corpus Act. He rejected the A.G.'s view that Indians did not have this right. Justice Norman went on to concur with Thomas Anstey that there could be no allegiance (loyalty to the crown) without protection of citizens' rights.

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