Emergency in 1975 was one of “the darkest periods” India could have ever witnessed in its entire history when over 1 lakh people, including eminent personalities like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai, Biju Patnaik, Chandra Shekhar & many more, were arrested. In short, whosoever went against the Indira Gandhi-led government was sent behind the bars. It was a time when an atmosphere of fear was created, and our democracy was badly threatened. Altogether, an emergency is often considered the darkest phase in India whenever declared and when one says “Emergency”, how can we not mention “Indira Gandhi”? The emergency is considered synonymous with Indira Gandhi for a reason.
What is that reason? What do you exactly mean by emergency and its types? Did you know that there isn’t just one instance of national emergency imposed in India rather ‘three’? We think now that you may be getting highly inquisitive, right? So let’s quickly deal with all of these.
Emergency provisions in India
The emergency is known as the emergency because the government invokes emergency provisions of the Constitution. Our Indian Constitution gives the President the authority to declare three types of emergencies: national, state, and financial. The Emergency provisions under our Constitution have been borrowed from the Weimar Constitution of Germany. The provisions under Indian Constitution for emergencies are discussed between articles 352- 360 (Part XVIII). The President has been given the authority to declare three types of emergencies:
Article 352- National Emergency
Article 356- State Emergency (Presidential rule)
Article 360- Financial Emergency
Let’s discuss these in detail.
To date, national emergencies have been declared more than once in India, out of which the Emergency of 1975 is considered the most fearful and darkest of all. Stay tuned with us till the end to know more about it! First of all, let’s go through the meaning of a national emergency.
In cases where the President is satisfied that there exists a grave situation (Art. 352), wherein the security of India is threatened on the grounds of wars, external aggression or armed rebellion, he can proclaim an emergency to that effect.
The 44th amendment replaced the term internal disturbance with armed rebellion.
An emergency can be declared over the entire territory of India or any part thereof.
President can declare an emergency only on the written advice of the cabinet
A special majority is needed to approve an emergency resolution. Once approved, the emergency shall operate for a maximum period of not more than 6 months.
Example of external aggression- If India and China openly accept that they will use armed forces against each other, then this is simply war but if there is no formal declaration that there will be armed forces used against a country, then it is external aggression.
President’s Rule (State Emergency)
As per Article 355, it shall be the duty of the Center to safeguard every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the Government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
Under article 356, if a President is satisfied with the report of the governor or otherwise that there exists a great emergency where the administration of the state cannot be continued in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, by invoking article 355, any person can dismiss the state government and take over the state administration on to himself and declare that parliament will enact the law on behalf of the state legislature.
Do you know?
The presidential rule was first imposed in June 1951 in Punjab. Since then, it has been imposed 115 times to date.
President’s rule was imposed in 12 states in 1977.
President’s rule was imposed 63 times in 20 years between 1971 and 1990.
Between 1991 and 2010, it was applied 27 times. Only in 1991 and 1992 it was used 9 times.
The uncritical use of Article 356 came down to a greater extent after the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the S R Bommai case in 1994.
Then, between 2011 and 2016, it was used 5 times, including 3 times after the BJP came to power in 2014 in Maharashtra, J & K, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
If the President of India under Article 360 is satisfied that a situation has arisen where the financial stability or credit of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened, he may make a declaration to that effect by a Proclamation. A financial emergency has never been imposed in India.
National Emergencies Declared in India
1. Emergency in 1962
The first emergency was declared by PM Jawaharlal Nehru on 26th October 1962, when the Indo- China war was fought. Nehru didn’t revoke the emergency. Even after the ceasefire. This emergency was still in force until 1965, when the Indo- Pak war broke out. Even after this, the hostilities ended with the Tashkent Agreement that was signed in 1966. It was in 1968 that the emergency was lifted.
2. Emergency in1971
This was the second emergency declared by PM Indira Gandhi on 3rd December 1971, when the Bangladesh Liberation war started. This emergency was also not revoked even when the hostilities ended on 17th December of the same year.
3. Emergency in 1975 (The Darkest Hour)
When the second emergency was still in force, PM Indira Gandhi once again declared an emergency on 25th June 1975. The emergency was a result of the contested election in 1971 that ultimately went against Indira Gandhi herself.
Indira Gandhi imposed an Emergency on June 25, 1975, on account of international disturbances, suspending key fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to every citizen.
The Emergency refers to a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977. It was officially issued by the then president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution due to prevailing 'internal disturbance'. The Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977.
Role of Jayaprakash Narayan in 1975 Emergency
Jayaprakash Narayan was a leader and activist in Bihar who held several protests against the Indira Gandhi-led government before 1975. He was very upfront about starting a revolution to reform the system and fight against corruption and inflation, for which he blamed Indira Gandhi.
Indira Gandhi was accused of electoral malpractices to win the 1971 Lok Sabha elections, and in the year 1975, the Allahabad High Court held Indira Gandhi guilty of such electoral malpractices and barred her from holding any public office for 6 years.
So, her election from UP’s Rae Bareli constituency in the Lok Sabha elections was annulled. After this decision, Indira Gandhi appealed to the Supreme Court, which she continued in her office as the Prime Minister.
Then Jayaprakash Narayan intensified the protests against this at Ramlila Maidan. In order to retain her position as PM, Indira Gandhi declared an emergency.
Vijayaraje Scindia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Raj Narain, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Jivatram Kripalani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Arun Jaitley, Jai Kishan Gupta Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Gayatri Devi, the dowager queen of Jaipur, and other protest leaders were immediately arrested after they went against the Indira Gandhi led government.
After the National Emergency of 1975 was over in 1977, the Lok Sabha elections were held once again, in which Indira Gandhi lost, and for the first time since Independence, a party other than the Congress came to power. Even Indira Gandhi faced a bad defeat in the mid-term election held in March 1977.