This Article is written by Dibya Prakash Lahiri from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies
On 25th June, 1975 a proclamation was made which changed the course of history of India’s modern day democracy and to the existential crisis of the fundamental rights that were enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution. The emergency as an ordinance, not only changed the societal perspective of life but also initiated the vision of the hate and misuse of autocratic powers to be inspiring to not only take a political vengeance but also to suppress the idea of dissent amongst the people. The idea of democracy was not only challenged politically and socially but with the judiciary also being trapped under the same lines in the history of the country. The question which remained, over the period of time was the unanswered but implied solution to the existence of the Indian democracy would remain or not in the country and whether the idea of constitutionalism can still exist in the country. The emergency also brought about a revolutionary change in the economical perspective of the nation.
The idea of emergency is not a result of one or two occurrences but a culmination of various misuse of power by the office of various ministers as well as several other leaders of that era. One of the biggest factors that played in a role in the declaration of emergency was the arbitrariness of the Government in terms of misusing the offices as well as several other circumstances. The Government of India led by the dynamic and the only female prime minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi had been failing to control the growing crisis that was leading to the downfall of economy. The victory of war from Pakistan in 1971 and leading to circumstances such as heavy price rise of the commodities, high inflation rate as well as a heavy loss of jobs in the market. The inflation rate had soared to the height of 30% due to which the then finance minister Mr. Yashwantrao Chavan had to introduce the financial budgets and policy in accordance to the benefit of the people, however, that had to withdraw due to lack of financial losses suffered. The economy was not only affected by the soaring and war, the ongoing parallel world of smuggling, as well as the black marketing of commodities also led to huge fall in the rate of income tax which not only damaged the financial earnings of the country but led to the pruning of Net Factor Income from Abroad as well. This, depletion of resources was leading to a collapse of the market along with the high rise of unemployment in the country resulted in protests.
The government wasn’t only losing out on the economical aspect, but an ongoing rage with the arbitrary arrest of the political leaders and student activists during the fee hike of the Gujarat Central University along with the strike of the Railway Union for not being able to get their demands meet. The overall situation in the country continued to become more and more severe as there were several transfers of the judges who belonged to the district court were immediately sent out arbitrarily without justifying the grounds. Another important factor that played a role in the development of such an event in the history of Indian democracy was the way to overrule the judgment of the courts.
The Government realizing the ongoing scenario of the nation was leading to a stature wherein the country could be heading for a civil war and anarchy, the Government had to resort to a position in which they could handle the situation so as to maintain peace and order restored in the nation. However, it must be noted that the idea of emergency shouldn’t be looked at with these perspectives which might confine the ideas existing in the nation as well as creating such an atmosphere which will also have political actions, due to which the democracy of the nation continues to remain intact except for the time being. The landmark case Raj Narain vs. Indira Nehru Gandhi which pronounced the disqualification of Indira Gandhi’s membership of Parliament from Rae Bareli constituency as a result of which, she could no longer hold the office of Prime Minister. However, the Supreme court overturned the order wherein she was allowed to stay in the office of the Prime Minister, however, could not be allowed to be a member of Parliament as well as vote in any of the motion. This resulted in a turn of events that lead to the final promulgation of the emergency which was signed in the middle of the night on 25th June 1975 as it was feared by Mrs. Gandhi that she might be in trouble and her Government can any time fall.
The Period of Emergency:
The period of emergency was considered to be an interesting phase as it had completely led to the downfall of the independence of Press which was considered to be the spine of the Indian democracy was censored and no one could criticize the Government. Along with the censorship of media, various fundamental rights were taken away and the confidence of the people was lost completely when the landmark case of ADM Jabalpur v/s Shivkant Shukla’s judgment was pronounced which was considered to be the darkest day in the history of Indian Judiciary as the judgment led to the conclusion that the Right to life of a citizen of the country is valued lesser than the orders of the Government. Several of the activists and leaders were put behind the bars along with one of the greatest freedom fighters, Shree JP Narayan.
However, the emergency was not only a dark phase but it also had certain benefits that are not even a cents worth in comparison to the horrendous acts. Nonetheless, the emergency was able to curb inflation and able to create stability in the share market. Further, in terms of creating an environment suitable enough to ensure a sense of security.
The emergency was a condescending idea of the establishment of removal of democracy for power preservation of one political aspect which resulted in the idea of creation of loss of powers which was considered to be the darkest phase of modern India. It creates an environment of fear which one needs to overcome by associating the better aspects and development of the nation and society. The emergency did change the course of period in the country, however, it needs to be observed how much of a change can it bring about in the real-life. India is a newly risen democracy and with such a development, it is easy for one to consider for overshadowing the democracy over the period of time as the history states. Nevertheless, history has always witnessed, one may try to possess India for their own benefits, still, India can never be for the one who couldn’t accept the people of India.
- Pranab Mukherjee, (2014), The Dramatic Decade, Page 144.
- Y.B Chavan, (1974), Union Finance Budget, Statement 123.
- Kuldip Nayar, (1978), Era of Darkness, Penguin House, Page 293