Analysis | Events | Emergency 1975 | 07th July 2022 | Virtual Wire
“ ……..Bhaiyon Aur Beheno Mananiya Rashtrapatiji ne Aapaatkaal ki ghoshna ki hai. Isme atankit hone ki koi baat nahi hai….”.
Just a few minutes before the clock struck 12:00 am on 24th June midnight this announcement shook the nation once and for all, following which the country would be clenched in the Thunder fist of the Iron Lady of India. Now, why did it have to happen what caused Mrs. Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi to have taken such a drastic step in-country, administration and who played the key role in formulating the programmes to be taken up during this movement collectively called the Bees Sutri Karyakram.
The Back Drop Incidents
1971- Indira Gandhi reaches her peak after India-Pakistan War
After the formation of Bangladesh in 1971 Indira Gandhi was at the peak of her career, with people hailing her as Durga, but that was only the tip of the iceberg adding to her charisma the game had started way back in 1967 when she had been trying to take near-absolute control in the functioning of the Indian National Congress. She successfully outmanoeuvred her enemies in the Congress party old (O) and broke Congress into two factions pulling out her loyalists into a separate and more effective performing faction of the Congress party after 1971 the Congress party was called the real congress party, there was a stark difference between the functioning of the two factions of the Congress whereas Congress (o) still relied on the old customs of legislation discussion and consultations for sorting out any party matter, the congress functioning was mainly based on the being loyal to the Gandhi family.
Indira Gandhi had concentrated the Government functioning through Secretariat with only her personal aides allowed to be around her, one of the most important advisors to Mrs. Gandhi was Mr. P.N.Haksar. It was this man who proposed the idea to other officers and his fellow working aides that the officers being hired for a particular Government should have the same ideology as the government otherwise it can create unrest in the Government's functioning. The ministers in the cabinet merely acted as figureheads with all the decisions being taken from the Safdarjung Road. The congress (o) faction leaders quickly found out of place if they failed to comply with the party's high command orders.
2. Utilizing the Parliamentary Powers to supersede the court orders
In the Historic Golaknath case, the Supreme Court gave the verdict that the constitution could not be amended to such an extent that it affected the fundamental rights of the Indian Citizens.
The family of Henry and William Golak Nath held over 500 acres of farmland in Jalandhar, Punjab. In the phase of the 1953 Punjab Security and Land Tenures Act, the state government held that the brothers could keep only thirty acres each, a few acres would go to tenants and the rest was declared 'surplus'. This was challenged by the Golak Nath family in the courts and the case was referred to the Supreme Court in 1965. The family filed a petition under Article 32 challenging the 1953 Punjab Act on the ground that it denied them their constitutional rights to acquire and hold property and practice any profession (Articles 19(1)(f) and 19(1)(g)) and to equality before and equal protection of the law (Article 14). However, to nullify this verdict the 24th Amendment was brought out in the parliament.
The 24th Amendment of the Constitution of India officially known as the Constitution Act 1971 enables the parliament to dilute the fundamental rights of the constitution through Amendments to the Constitution. It also amended Article 368 to provide expressly that Parliament has the power to amend any provision of the Constitution. The Amendment further made it Obligatory for the president to give his assent when a constitution bill was presented to him.
In a similar instance when the parliament could not outdo the Court in the privy purse case it brought about the 26th Amendment.
Privy Purse was a payment made to the ruling families of the erstwhile princely states as part of their agreements to first Integrate with India in 1947 after the Independence of India, and later merge with the states in 1949, thereby ending their ruling rights. The privy purses continued to be paid to the royal families until the 26th Amendment in 1971, by which all their privileges and allowances from the central government ceased to exist, which was implemented after a two-year legal battle. In some cases, privy purses were continued for life for individuals who have ruling powers before 1947 for instance HH Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi’s allowance was reinstated after a prolonged legal battle.
In the landmark Kesavananda Bharathi case, however, the 24th Amendment was put under question with the Supreme court limiting the amending powers of the parliament such that changes in the basic structure of the constitution could be prevented.
On 7th February 1970 Swami Kesavananda Bharathi senior plaintiff and the head of the Hindu monastery Edneer Matha in Edneer, Kasargod District, Kerala, challenges the Kerala government’s attempts, under two land reform acts, to impose restrictions on the management of its property. A noted Indian Jurist Nanabhoy Palkhivala convinced Swami into filing his petition under article 26, concerning the right to manage religiously owned property without government interference. The hearings consumed 5 months, and the outcome profoundly affected India’s democratic processes. The case had been heard for 68 days, the arguments commencing on 31st October 1972 and ending on 23rd March 1972.
Political Unrest begins
Jayaprakash Narayan; 11 October 1902 – 8 October 1979), popularly referred to as JP or Lok Nayak was an Indian independence activist, theorist, socialist and political leader. He is remembered for leading the mid-1970s opposition against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, for whose overthrow he had called for a "total revolution". His biography, Jayaprakash, was written by his nationalist friend and the writer of Hindi literature, Rambriksh Benipuri. In 1999, he was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in
recognition of his social service. Other awards include the Magsaysay award for Public Service in 1965.
Chimanbhai Patel (3 June 1929 – 17 February 1994) was an Indian politician associated with the Indian National Congress and Janata Dal, and a former Chief Minister of Gujarat state in India representing both those parties at various times. Patel is known as the founder of Kokam Theory which was initiated to counter the Kham Theory of the Indian National Congress and it was very successful in Saurashtra and South Gujarat achieving huge support from Kolis which was 24% of the state population.
This verdict of the Supreme court gave the opponents of Indira Gandhi especially Jayprakash Narayan an opportunity to criticize the former as a result of which country wide protests were started the starting sparks were the Nav Nirman movement from December 1973 to March 1974 this was basically a student agitation against the then education minister of Gujarat this agitation had led the then Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel to resign and the government to be dissolved putting the state under presidents rule similarly assassination attempts were made on the other ministers. After the success of this agitation, Jayprakash Narayan called for a revolution in the Champaran District of Bihar where he asked the pillars of society i.e the labourers, the students, the middle class, and the health care workers to silently put down this governing system ,following which a Nationwide Railway workers strike was called for putting the railway services to a standstill, the police put thousands of workers under arrest and their families were thrown out of the quarters that they had been allotted to. This movement was led by George Fernandes.country-wide.
The Raj Narain Verdict
Raj Narain (23 November 1917 – 31 December 1986) was an Indian freedom fighter and politician. He won in a famous electoral malpractice case against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which led to her disqualification and imposition of an Emergency in India in 1975. He defeated Indira Gandhi during the 1977 Lok Sabha elections.
Yashpal Kapoor / Kapur (1929–1993) was a leader of the Indian National Congress and a close aide of Indira Gandhi. Kapoor was a member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh from 1972 to 1978. Indira Gandhi's election was declared null and void, and she was banned from contesting any election for an additional six years availing the services of a government officer, Yashpal Kapoor.
George Mathew Fernandes (3 June 1930 – 29 January 2019) was an Indian trade unionist, statesman,[and journalist, who served as the 22nd Defense Minister of India from 1998 until 2004. He was a member of Lok Sabha for over 30 years, starting from Bombay (present-day Mumbai) in 1967 till 2009 mostly representing constituencies from Bihar.
In a landmark judgment on February 12, 1975, Justice Sinha declared the election of
Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to the Lok Sabha as void and an Emergency was imposed in the country on June 27 of the same year. Born in Agra in 1920, Justice Sinha obtained his LLB degree from Agra University in 1943.
Siddhartha Shankar Ray (20 October 1920 – 6 November 2010) was an Indian lawyer, diplomat and Indian National Congress politician from West Bengal. In his political career, he held a number of offices, including the Union Minister of Education (1971–72), Chief Minister of West Bengal (1972–77), Governor of Punjab (1986–89) and Indian Ambassador to the United States (1992–96). He was at one point the main troubleshooter for the Congress Party.
The 1971 elections had brought a thumping victory to Indira Gandhi and Congress Party but this election was deemed to be won by-election malpractices as per claimed by the defeated incumbent Raj Narain, he had appealed to the Supreme for a proper judgment regarding the election malpractices. This was the first time that the Prime Minister had been called for a court hearing, among the political circles it is said that Indira Gandhi felt extremely humiliated by the Allahabad Court'sbehaviour behaviour and while coming back from the court after the hearing she had decided to give the entire nation a shock treatment. The hearing was done by a bench headed by Jagmohanlal Sinha, Nanabhoy Phalkiwala defended Indira Gandhi and Raj Narain was defended by Shanti Bhushan. It is said that the prime minister was made to stand for 5 hours at a stretch while court proceedings were conducted.
At the end of the hearing, Indira Gandhi was proven guilty of election malpractice for availing services of the government employee Yashpal Kapoor a close aide of Indira Gandhi and her helping hand since Jawaharlal Nehru’s death. It was declared that Indira Gandhi has to vacate the post of Prime Minister and she shall not be allowed to appear in any of the elections for the next six years. The congress party appealed to the Prime minister to the Supreme Court with the result that it was made to force that all the privileges that Indira Gandhi was receiving as a member of the parliament had to be stopped then and there and she was prohibited from voting however she was allowed to remain the prime-minister as a resolution of her appeal.
The Final Stage
In a twist of decisions based on the advice given by her trusted aides she flatly refused to do any of them. This incited the opposition to resort to harder means of agitation, as the slogan was given by Jayprakash Narayan “ Kursi Khali Karo Warna Janta aati hai”. He incited the people, the working class, the Government employees, and the student to disobey the Government orders if they felt it was immoral, this was a signal that there are chances of rebellion in the country. It was a critical point for India since the economy was destabilized, on account of the war, the oil crisis going on since 1973, and the internal disturbances on account of the daily agitations and strikes. The Government officials were worried about this situation way back during the times when the Gujarat agitation had successfully dissolved the Congress Government but the part leaders did not pay any heed. Indira Gandhi feared a military uprising at this point and talked to general Shyam Manekshaw after a brief meeting she was confirmed about there are no chances of such uprisings.
Siddhartha Shankar Ray was called in for troubleshooting, it was feared that the US might become a headache in supporting the agitations and proving effective in uprooting the present Government. After an extensive series of meetings and negotiations, Siddhartha Shankar Ray prepared the draft for emergency declaration and the Honorable President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was made to sign it. However, as per the Government's claims, the emergency was declared only to work on the Economy to lift it up by working with the discipline of the graveyard. It was also claimed that there was a security threat to the country through internal disturbances. Within 3 hours of the announcement, the Press media censored the ministers who ratified the bill only when they came to know about it the next morning after coming to the parliament.
P.s- The effects of an emergency will be discussed in a separate issue if permitted.