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National Emergency in India 1975 to 1977, History, Leadership and Reasons

National Emergency in India: Article 352 of the Indian Constitution outlines the provisions related to a National Emergency. It stipulates that in the event of an extraordinary situation that jeopardizes the nation’s peace, security, or stability, whether due to war, external aggression, or internal insurgency, a state of emergency can be declared and implemented.

This article offers a comprehensive understanding of National Emergencies in India, including their initial declaration since the Constitution’s enactment, the circumstances that warrant their declaration, the government’s authority during such emergencies, and their impact on the political landscape.

National Emergency in India 1975

The National Emergency in India was a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency across the country. On the advice of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed proclaimed a state of national emergency on 25 June 1975. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution because of prevailing “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 and ended on 21 March 1977.

The National Emergency in India was declared in the wake of a court ruling that would have disqualified Indira Gandhi from holding office. The Allahabad High Court ruled that Gandhi had used government machinery to influence the election in her constituency, and she was barred from holding office for six years. Gandhi responded by declaring the Emergency, suspending civil liberties, and putting the opposition leaders in jail.

During the National Emergency in India, the government cracked down on dissent and freedom of expression. The press was censored, and opposition leaders were arrested. Many people were detained without trial, and there were reports of torture and other human rights abuses. The government also launched a number of controversial programs, such as a forced sterilization campaign that targeted poor people.

The National Emergency in India came to an end in 1977, when Indira Gandhi called for fresh elections. The opposition Janata Party won the elections, and Gandhi was defeated. The Emergency in India is considered one of the darkest periods in India’s history, and it remains a controversial topic today.

National Emergency in India 1975 Highlights

Here are some of the key events that happened during the period of the Indian Emergency from 1975 to 1977:

  • June 25, 1975: President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declares a state of emergency.
    Facing mounting political unrest and challenges, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi advised President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to declare a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Indian Constitution. The Emergency in India was justified by internal instability and the threat of national security. It led to the suspension of civil liberties, the imposition of censorship, and the arrest of political leaders.
  • June 26, 1975: Indira Gandhi addresses the nation on All India Radio, justifying the Emergency in India.
    In her address to the nation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi cited reasons such as political and social unrest, economic challenges, and the need to maintain law and order to justify the declaration of Emergency. She portrayed it as a necessary step to prevent the country from descending into chaos and instability.
  • July 4, 1975: The Supreme Court upholds the Emergency in India.
    A constitutional challenge was brought against the Emergency before the Supreme Court. In a majority decision, the court upheld the validity of the Emergency on the grounds of internal disturbance. This decision marked a significant moment as the highest court supported the government’s actions.
  • September 1976: Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s son, launches a forced sterilization campaign.
    Emergency in India: As part of the government’s population control efforts, Sanjay Gandhi, the son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, launched a controversial mass sterilization campaign. The campaign faced severe criticism for its coercive methods and lack of informed consent, resulting in human rights violations and adverse public reactions.
  • January 18, 1977: Indira Gandhi calls for fresh elections.
    Emergency in India: Amid international and domestic pressure, and following a period of tightening political and civil freedoms, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi decided to call for fresh elections. This decision was seen as an attempt to legitimize her government’s actions and restore democratic processes.
  • March 21, 1977: The Janata Party wins the elections, and Indira Gandhi is defeated.
    Emergency in India: The 1977 elections marked a turning point. The newly-formed Janata Party, a coalition of opposition parties, secured a landslide victory against Indira Gandhi’s Congress party. The elections saw a massive public backlash against the Emergency, perceived authoritarianism, and human rights abuses. Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister, ending the Emergency era.

These events collectively represent a tumultuous period in Indian history marked by political power struggles, suspension of civil liberties, controversies surrounding population control measures, and a significant electoral shift that signaled the end of the Emergency in India and the return to democratic governance.

Why was an Emergency declared in India in 1975

The Emergency in India took place for 21 months, spanning from 1975 to 1977, during which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi invoked a state of emergency nation-wide. This declaration came following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s recommendation, leading President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to announce a state of national emergency on 25 June 1975. Acting on the authority of Article 352 of the Constitution, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed cited “internal disturbance” as the rationale for imposing the Emergency, which remained in effect from 25 June 1975 until 21 March 1977.

There were several reasons why Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency. One reason was that she was facing a number of challenges, including a growing opposition movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan, a drought, and an economic crisis. She also feared that the opposition was planning to overthrow her government. Another reason for the Emergency in India was that Indira Gandhi wanted to consolidate her power. She had been Prime Minister since 1966, and she was facing increasing criticism from the opposition.

The Emergency in India gave her the opportunity to silence her critics and to rule without any checks or balances. The Emergency was a dark chapter in Indian history. It was a time of censorship, repression, and human rights abuses. Many political opponents were arrested and detained without trial. The press was censored, and freedom of speech was curtailed. The Emergency in India also had a negative impact on the economy. The government took over many industries and businesses, and it imposed strict price controls. This led to shortages of goods and services, and it increased inflation.

The Emergency in India finally ended in 1977 when Indira Gandhi called for fresh elections. The Janata Party, a coalition of opposition parties, won the elections, and Indira Gandhi was defeated. The Emergency is a reminder of the dangers of authoritarian rule. It is important to protect the fundamental rights of citizens, even in times of crisis.

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Relatable Links
List of Chief Election Commissioners of India  List of Lok Sabha Speakers of India 
List of Chief Justices of India 1950-2022 List of Chief Justice of India 
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What kind of emergency was declared in India in 1975?

National emergency under Article 352: Such an emergency was declared in India in the 1962 war (China war), 1971 war (Pakistan war), and 1975 internal disturbance (declared by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed ).

What are the three types of emergency in India?

Three types of emergencies are addressed in the Constitution of India: Nation Emergency, State Emergency, and Financial Emergency.

Who was the prime minister of India during 1975 emergency?

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi.

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