Emergency of 1975 - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

Emergency of 1975

by Devender

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The Emergency in India was a 21 month period from 1975 to 1977 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency across the whole country.

Emergency of 1975

  • Economic Issues:
  • India provided support to Bangladesh for its liberation but it had adverse effects on the Indian condition, the foreign exchange reserve of India suffered.

  • There were two consecutive monsoon failures in 1972 and 73
  • So, the food grain availability decreased and the price of food grains increased
  • There was large-scale unemployment and recession in the economy which led to unrest in industry and strikes all over the country
  • Everything finally added up to the All India railway strike in May 1974

  • The scuffle with Judiciary:
  • The central government under the leadership of Indira Gandhi passed the amendment in the Parliament stating that it can abridge Fundamental rights while giving effect to DPSPs. Later the Supreme court stated that some basic features of the constitution can not be amended in the Kesavananda Bharti case.

  • This statement angered Union Government
  • They changed the long-term procedure of appointing senior-most judges in SC as Chief Justice
  • The government later in 1973, appointed Justice AN Ray as Chief Justice of India setting aside seniority of three judges
  • While hearing the plea of socialist leader Raj Narain in Allahabad HC on the validity of the victory of Indira to Lok Sabha got ruled in his favor
  • The verdict set aside the victory of Indira and that the elections were not valid as she abused her powers
  • When the verdict was challenged in the Supreme court, it granted a stay on the order and Indira remained the MP

  • JP Movement (Total Revolution):
  • In 1974, the students of Gujarat started a protest against the rising prices of food grain, cooking oil, and other essential commodities. The protest was later joined by other political parties but the police replied with excessive force, indiscriminate arrests & used lathi-charge on everybody.

  • The union government stepped in and dissolved the assembly, and announced new elections to the assembly
  • These protests also inspired students of Bihar and they also initiated a similar agitation in March 1974
  • Jayaprakash Narayan came out of political retirement and provided the perfect leadership to these students
  • He gave a call for Sampooran Kranti (Total Revolution) against corruption and to save democracy from Indira Gandhi
  • During this movement, people set parallel governments all over the state and didn't pay taxes, etc. It attracted attention from students, farmers, traders, middle man, some other sections of the society, and nearly all the non-left political parties.

  • Even after all this support, the JP movement lost its value mainly because of the absence of organizational structures of the movement
  • The students started going back to their classes
  • The movement failed to attract the rural and urban poor both in Gujarat and Bihar

  • Imposition of Emergency

    All the political parties under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan demanded the resignation of Indira Gandhi on moral grounds due to the supreme court's partial stay on earlier orders. Despite the demand, Indira Gandhi resisted it and imposed a state of emergency in 1975 invoking article 352 of the constitution on the grounds of the threat of internal disturbances.

  • The Central government misused its powers
  • The leaders of opposition parties were arrested
  • The freedom of the press was taken from them via Press censorship
  • It was made compulsory to get governments approval before publishing anything.
  • A ban was imposed on protests, strikes, and public agitations
  • The fundamental rights of constitutional remedies to move the court for restoring their Fundamental Rights got suspended
  • Organizations like RSS and Jamait-E-Islami were banned on grounds of disturbance to social and communal harmony
  • There were a lot of custodial and torture deaths during the Emergency
  • Poor people were relocated to different places
  • Compulsory sterilization to control the population was also imposed

  • Impact of Emergency

    Due to these harsh conditions during that time, people returned their honors like Padma Shri and etc. They did so against the suspension of democracy in the country.

  • The power was abused and leaders realized that actions need to be taken to prevent such declaration of emergency again in the future
  • The people's trust in democracy was restored after the preventive measures were taken and political leaders also stuck to these measures
  • Since that time, no attempt had been made to undermine the democratic framework
  • After 1977, democracy again flourished in India and no instance of declaration of emergency occurred since

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