Explained: The Story of Emergency | Explanatory news


On 25 June, India entered the fiftieth year of the imposition of Emergency., An extraordinary 21-month period from 1975 to 1977 saw the suspension of civil liberties, curtailment of press freedom, mass arrests, annulment of elections and rule by decree. The Emergency, strongly opposed by The Indian Express, was a dark chapter in modern Indian history that left a wide and lasting impact on Indian politics.

gave Emergency means duration. From 25 June 1975 to 21 March 1977, during which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's government imposed extensive executive and legislative consequences on the country using special provisions in the Constitution.

Almost all opposition leaders were jailed. Fundamental rights including freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) were curtailed, leading to earlier censorship of the press.

The declaration of emergency transforms the federal structure into a true unitary structure, as the Union gains the right to issue any directive to the state governments, which, though not suspended, come under full control of the Centre.

Parliament can by statute extend the term of the Lok Sabha by one year, legislate on subjects included in the state list, and extend the executive powers of the Union to the states. The President, with parliamentary approval, can amend the constitutional provisions relating to the distribution of financial resources between the Union and the States.

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What was the legal and constitutional approval of emergency?

Under Article 352 of the Constitution, the President, on the advice of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, can declare an emergency if the security of India or any part of the country is “threatened by war or foreign aggression or armed insurrection.” “

In 1975, instead of an armed uprising, the government had the basis of “internal disturbances” to declare a state of emergency. In its press note, the government said some people are inciting the police and armed forces to not perform their duties – apparently referring to Jay Prakash Narayan's call for the police not to follow orders that are “immoral”. “were

This was the only instance of emergency declaration due to “internal disturbances”. The two previous occasions on which emergency was declared on 26 October 1962 and 3 December 1971 were both war-based.

This ground of “internal disturbance” was removed by the Junta government through the Constitution (Forty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978, which came into power after the Emergency.

Article 358 is freed from all limitations imposed by Article 19 (“right to liberty”) as soon as the emergency is enforced. Article 359 empowers the President to suspend the right of people to go to court to enforce their rights during emergency.

What were the political and social conditions in India in the months before the Emergency?

In early 1974, a student movement called Noonarman (Reconstruction) began in Gujarat against Chamanbhai Patel's Congress government, which was seen as corrupt. As the protests turned violent, Patel had to resign and President's Rule was imposed.

Neo-Narman inspired a student movement against corruption and mismanagement in Bihar, and the ABVP and socialist organizations formed the Chhatra Sangharash Samiti. On March 18, 1974, students marched to the state assembly. A fire broke out, and three students were killed in police action. The students asked Jayaprakash Narayan, a Gandhian and hero of the Quit India movement, to lead them. They agreed to two conditions – that the movement would be non-violent and pan-Indian, and that it would aim to rid the country of corruption and misrule. After that the student movement came to be known as “JP Movement”.

Meanwhile, in May 1974, socialist leader George Fernandes called an unprecedented strike by railway workers that paralyzed the Indian Railways for three weeks.

On June 5, during a speech at Patna's historic Gandhi Maidan, JP called for “sampoorna kranti”, or total revolution. In August, he visited the Bihar countryside, and in November, he fell to the ground injured when police lathicharged protesters. By the end of the year, JP had received letters of support from across India, and convened a meeting of opposition parties in Delhi.

He toured the country in January and February 1975. On March 6, he addressed a huge rally at the Delhi Boat Club and on March 18 at Patna. Do, ke janta aati hai (vacate the throne, because the people are coming).

On June 12, 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court delivered a landmark judgment in a petition filed by Rajnarain, holding Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractice, and annulling her election from Rae Bareli. stated. On appeal, the Supreme Court granted partial relief to the Prime Minister – she could attend Parliament but not vote.

As demands for his resignation grew louder and his aides in the Congress dug in their heels, JP asked the police not to carry out immoral orders.

Late in the evening of June 25, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signed the declaration of emergency. Power was cut up to Delhi's Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg where most of the newspapers had their offices. The Cabinet was informed of the decision the next morning. As no newspaper could be printed, people heard about Indira's address on All India Radio.

What happened to opposition leaders, media people and political dissidents during the Emergency?

Almost all opposition leaders including JP were detained. About 36,000 people were jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).

Newspapers were subjected to pre-censorship. UNI and PTI were merged into a state-controlled agency called Samachar. The Press Council was abolished. More than 250 journalists including Kuldeep Nair Indian Express, was sent to jail. While most newspapers balk, some like to. Indian Express Resisted the Emergency, fought the regulations in court, and printed blanks when their stories were already censored. Indian Express Owner Ram Nath Goenka led the Fourth Estate resistance.

Blank editorial that The Indian Express published in its first edition on 27 June 1975 after the declaration of Emergency. Blank editorial which The Indian Express published late on 25 June in its first edition after the declaration of Emergency on 27 June 1975.

Indira's son Sanjay Gandhi pushed a “five-point program” that included forced family planning and slum clearance. In April 1976, on the orders of DDA Vice Chairman Jagmohan, bulldozers went to clear the slums near Turkman Gate in Delhi. When the locals protested, the police opened fire and killed many. Sanjay gave officials at the Center and states family planning targets, which led to forced sterilization. On October 18, 1976, 50 people were killed in police firing at people protesting against forced sterilization in Muzaffarnagar, UP.

What legal changes were pushed through Parliament and the courts during the Emergency?

With the opposition in jail, Parliament passed the Constitution (Thirty-eighth Amendment) Act, which banned judicial review of the Emergency, and the Constitution (Thirty-fifth Amendment) Act, which provided that the election of the Prime Minister could not be challenged in the Supreme Court. can go Court

The Constitution (Forty-Fifth Amendment) Act made several changes to the Act, took away the judiciary's right to hear election petitions, expanded the power of the Union to take over state subjects, and gave Parliament unfettered power to amend the Constitution. In which there was no judicial process. Made revision possible, and exempted from judicial review any law passed by Parliament to carry out any or all directive principles of state policy.

In the famous case of ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla, 1976, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that detention without trial during the Emergency was legal. Justice HR Khanna was the only dissenter on the majority verdict.

What prompted Indira Gandhi to lift the Emergency, and what happened next?

For no apparent reason, Indira decided to lift the Emergency in early 1977. In his book India After Gandhi, historian Ramchandra Guha lists various theories offered to explain her decision: that the IB reports had convinced her that she would win the election; A similar action was required by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan, and even he was deprived of connecting with the common people.

As it happened, Indira was completely defeated in the 1977 elections. The Janata Party, formed by the merger of the Jana Sangh, the Congress (O), the Socialists and the Bharatiya Lok Dal, emerged as a formidable force, and Maraji Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India.

What efforts did the Janata government make to compensate for the losses caused by the Emergency?

The Janata government reversed many of the constitutional changes effected by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. It did not abolish the emergency provision, but made it extremely difficult to enforce it in the future. It again made judicial review of the declaration of emergency possible, and ordered that every declaration of emergency be laid before both houses of Parliament within one month of the declaration. Unless it is approved by a special majority of both houses — a majority of the total strength of the House and not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting — the proclamation shall lapse.

The 44th Amendment removed “internal disturbance” as a basis for the imposition of emergency, meaning that in addition to war and external aggression, armed insurrection would now be the only arena. However, the 44th Amendment left the words 'secular' and 'socialist', which were inserted in the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment, untouched.

The Shah Commission, set up by the Janata government to report on the imposition of Emergency and its adverse effects, submitted a damning report that found the decision to be unilateral and adversely affecting civil liberties. Is.

How Emergency Changed Indian Politics?

The Janata experiment gave India its first non-Congress government, but its collapse also showed the limits of anti-Congress. The Emergency gave India a crop of young leaders who would dominate politics for decades to come — Lalu Prasad Yadav, George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley, Ram Vilas Paswan, and many others.

The post-Emergency Parliament saw the coalescence of social forces behind the Jan Sangh and the Socialists – the Hindutva upper caste, and the Luhya agrarian and artisan castes – and increased OBC representation in Parliament. The Janata government appointed the Mandal Commission to look into OBC quotas, which would make the rise of OBCs in North India irreversible.

Emergency became a model of how not to do democratic politics. This damaged the reputation of the Congress leading the civil liberties struggle against the colonial state. Emergency is built into the political vocabulary, with the government ascribing to everyone an “emergency mindset”. Even critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sometimes describe his government as one of “undeclared emergency”.



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