Emergency in India
In India, a state of emergency is a period of rule that can be declared by the President of India in a situation of crisis. The President can overrule the various articles of the Constitution, which guarantee Fundamental Rights to the people of India, with the recommendation of the cabinet of ministers. Part XVIII of the Indian Constitution, from Articles 352 to 360, contains emergency measures. These laws enable the Central Government to efficiently respond to exceptional circumstances. The rationale for incorporation is to protect the country’s security, sovereignty, integrity, and unity as well as the Constitution and the democratic political system. In this article, we have provided details about emergency India and its impact.
What is Emergency in India?
In India, an emergency refers to a situation in which the normal functioning of the country is disrupted, and the government exercises extraordinary powers to maintain law and order or deal with a crisis. The Indian Constitution provides for three types of emergencies:
- National Emergency: This type of emergency is declared when there is a threat to the security of India, whether it is from external aggression or armed rebellion within the country. It is proclaimed by the President of India and can be imposed on the entire country or a specific region. During a national emergency, the central government gains additional powers to govern and can suspend some fundamental rights of citizens.
- State Emergency: A state emergency, also known as President’s Rule, is imposed on a particular state when the constitutional machinery within the state fails to function properly. This can occur due to factors such as political instability, failure of the state government, or internal disturbances. The Governor of the state, on behalf of the President, takes control of the state’s administration, and the state legislature may be dissolved or suspended.
- Financial Emergency: This emergency can be declared when the financial stability or credit of India is threatened. It empowers the President to direct the states on financial matters and take necessary steps to ensure the country’s fiscal stability.
It’s worth noting that the declaration of an emergency in India is a serious step, and it involves the suspension of certain democratic rights and the centralization of power in the hands of the government. The Constitution imposes certain checks and balances to prevent misuse of emergency powers and ensures that emergency provisions are used sparingly and only in exceptional circumstances.
Emergency in India- Types of Emergency
There are three types of Emergency provisions in India:
- Constitutional Emergency: Article 355 requires the centre to guarantee that the governance of each state is carried out in line with the provisions of the constitution. In the event that a state’s constitutional machinery fails, the central assumes control of its administration under Article 356. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘President’s Rule.’
- Financial Emergency: Article 360 authorizes the president to declare a Financial Emergency if he believes that a situation has emerged that threatens India’s financial stability or credit, or any portion of its territory.
- National Emergency: Article 352 empowers the president to proclaim a national emergency if the security of India or a portion of it is jeopardized by war, external attack, or armed insurrection. Even before the onset of war, armed revolt, or external attack, the President may proclaim a national emergency. When a national emergency is proclaimed due to ‘war’ or ‘foreign aggression,’ it is referred to as an ‘External Emergency.’ When it is proclaimed on the grounds of ‘armed insurrection,’ however, it is termed an ‘Internal Emergency.’
Emergency in India Imposed on 25th June 1975
In March-April 1974, the Bihar Chatra Sangharsh Samiti, a student protest, obtained the support of Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan against the Bihar administration. Jayaprakash Narayan called for a “complete revolution” in Patna in April 1974, urging students, peasants, and labour unions to reform Indian society non violently.
Raj Narain, who was defeated by Indira Gandhi in the 1971 parliamentary election, filed petitions in the Allahabad High Court accusing her of electoral fraud and using state machinery for her political interest. Shanti Bhushan argued the lawsuit on Narain’s behalf. Indira Gandhi was also cross-examined before the High Court.
On 12 June 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court convicted the prime minister of misusing government machinery for her election campaign. The court ruled her election null and void and removed her from her Lok Sabha seat. The court also barred her from running in any election for another six years. Serious allegations like buying voters and electoral fraud were dismissed, and the former Prime Minister was held accountable for misusing government machinery.
Indira Gandhi appealed the ruling of the High Court to the Supreme Court. On 24th June 1975, Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer affirmed the High Court decision and ordered that all advantages Gandhi earned as an MP be revoked, as well as her right to vote. She was, however, permitted to continue as Prime Minister until the outcome of her appeal.
Later, on the night of 25th June 1975, just minutes before midnight, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed announced a state of internal emergency on the advice of the prime minister. Indira Gandhi awarded herself exceptional powers by invoking Article 352 of the Indian Constitution. That’s how in odd circumstances the emergency has been imposed on India for the first time to save the political interest of the prime minister.
Indira Gandhi declared a new election and freed all political prisoners on 18th January 1977, while the Emergency formally ended on March 23, 1977. Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi both lost their seats in the March 1977 Lok Sabha elections. Congress was reduced to 153 seats, 92 of which came from four southern states. The Janata Party had a strong majority with 298 seats and 47 seats from its allies (out of a total of 542). Morarji Desai became India’s first non-Congress Prime Minister.
Consequences of Emergency of 1975
The emergency declared in India in 1975 was one of the most controversial and significant events in the country’s political history. Here are some of the key consequences of the emergency:
- Suspension of Civil Liberties: One of the most notable consequences of the emergency was the suspension of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The government imposed censorship on the press, curtailed freedom of speech and expression, and detained thousands of political activists and opposition leaders without trial.
- Political Repression: The emergency was characterized by widespread political repression. Opposition parties and activists were targeted, and dissent was suppressed. Many opposition leaders, including Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai, were arrested, and their parties were banned. The government also initiated a mass sterilization campaign, which was implemented with coercive measures.
- Centralization of Power: During the emergency, the power of the central government was significantly enhanced. The Prime Minister at the time, Indira Gandhi, and her government wielded enormous authority, and decision-making was centralized. The states’ autonomy was undermined, and the government could dismiss state governments and assume direct control through President’s Rule.
- Economic Policies: The emergency period saw the implementation of various economic policies. The government pursued a more interventionist approach, with stricter regulations on industries and trade. It also introduced measures to control prices and curb inflation. However, some of these policies faced criticism for their adverse impact on economic growth and individual freedoms.
- Political Backlash and Elections: The emergency triggered a strong backlash from various sections of society. Civil society organizations, student groups, and political activists mobilized against the government. The opposition parties, who were initially suppressed, united under the banner of the Janata Party and fought the 1977 general elections. The elections resulted in a decisive defeat for Indira Gandhi’s Congress party, and the Janata Party formed the government at the center.
- Strengthening of Democracy: The emergency served as a stark reminder of the importance of democratic values and civil liberties in India. It led to a renewed emphasis on the protection of fundamental rights and the separation of powers. The judiciary played a crucial role during this period, with landmark judgments upholding the primacy of individual rights. The emergency is often considered a turning point in India’s democratic history, reinforcing the significance of checks and balances and the importance of safeguarding democratic institutions.
Overall, the consequences of the emergency of 1975 had a profound impact on Indian politics, civil liberties, and democratic governance. It remains a contentious period in India’s history, serving as a reminder of the importance of upholding democratic principles and protecting individual freedoms.
Impact of National Emergency in India
The Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed announced the National Emergency on 25th June 2022. Here we have given the impact of the National Emergency in India:
- No media outlet was permitted to disseminate news without censoring.
- All of these incidents resulted in a breach of certain fundamental rights as well as a case of pure human rights violation.
- In several parts of India, armed personnel were formed to prevent individuals from establishing organizations and discussing non-personal topics.
- Looking at the issues of people’s human rights during times of emergency, it must be said that it was one of the most arbitrary powers exerted by the Constitution as well as the Government towards its people.
- The Constitution, a holy charter of fundamental liberties, has been undermined in the most merciless way conceivable.
- One of the primary responsibilities of the police and military was to prevent individuals from establishing groupings and to arrest those who seemed or acted suspiciously.
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Emergency in India- FAQs
Q. What happens during an emergency in India?
During the emergency in India, fundamental rights were suspended and state powers invested in the central government.
Q. What is the emergency in the country?
In India, a state of emergency is a period of rule that can be declared by the President of India in a situation of crisis. The President can overrule the various articles of the Constitution, which guarantee Fundamental Rights to the people of India, with the recommendation of the cabinet of ministers.
Q. What is an emergency and what types of emergency?
The Indian Constitution grants the President the ability to declare three categories of emergencies: national, state, and financial.