From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : National Emergency
Mains level : Important judgments
The 1975 verdict of Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad high court, disqualifying then PM Indira Gandhi on charges of electoral malpractices was a judgment of “great courage” that “shook” the nation, said CJI in his speech.
What was the case?
- It all started with the 1971 Lok Sabha elections, where the Congress (R), which was the newly formed faction of the Congress party floated by Indira Gandhi after her expulsion from the party in 1969, won a landslide victory securing 352 out of the 518 seats in the lower house.
- An election petition was filed directly before a High Court challenging the election of Indira Gandhi.
What is an Election Petition?
- Election Petition has to be filed within 45 days from the date of declaration of the election results.
- The Representation of People (RP) Act of 1951 lists out the grounds on which the election of a candidate can be called into question.
- Section 123 of the RP Act lists certain corrupt practices which, if proved successful, can be grounds to declare the election of a candidate void.
- While hearing an election petition, the High Court being the court of first instance, exercises powers similar to a trial court.
- Thus, there is cross-examination of witnesses and detailed examination of evidence which is normally employed in trial courts and not High Courts.
Findings against Gandhi
- Use of government machinery to set up stage, loudspeakers
- Use of gazetted officer as an election agent
A case that led to the promulgation of National Emergency
The verdict is widely believed to have led to the imposition of Emergency on June 25, 1975.
- A vacation bench of the Supreme Court allowed a partial stay of the judgment after Gandhi had appealed against the High Court verdict.
- Then Justice VR Krishna Iyer, said that she could continue as Member of Parliament (MP) in the Lok Sabha and could attend the House, but could not participate in its proceedings or vote as MP.
- She also could not draw any remuneration as an MP.
- Importantly, the apex court allowed her to continue as Prime Minister and allowed her to speak and participate in the proceedings of the House and to draw salary in her capacity as Prime Minister.
- The order by the apex court, while not completely against Gandhi, did not satisfy her.
- She wanted a blanket stay on the Allahabad High Court judgment.
- Since the Supreme Court did not grant her that, National Emergency was proclaimed the very next day, June 25.
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Back2Basics: National Emergency
- The Constitution employs the expression ‘proclamation of emergency’ to denote National Emergency under Article 352.
- Under Article 352, the president can declare a national emergency when the security of India or a part of it is threatened by war or external aggression or armed rebellion.
- The President can declare a national emergency even before the actual occurrence of war or armed rebellion or external aggression
- When a national emergency is declared on the grounds of ‘war’ or ‘external aggression’, it is known as ‘External Emergency’.
- On the other hand, when it is declared on the grounds of ‘armed rebellion’, it is known as ‘Internal Emergency’.
- The term ‘armed rebellion is inserted from the 44th amendment. Before this term, it was known as an internal disturbance.