WHAT HAPPENS DURING A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’?

Today, the 25th of June, marks the completion of 40 years since India as a nation was declared to be in a state of emergency. The nation has undergone three states of emergencies in the past 4 decades.

1. October 26, 1962- January 10, 1968: This marks the period of the Indo-China War where the country came under external aggression.

2. December 3, 1971- March 21, 1977: Owing to the Indo Pakistan War, the security of India was at risk due to external aggression and the nation was declared to be in a state of emergency.

3. June 25, 1975 - March 21, 1977: Internal opposition to the then PM of India resulted in the PM declaring the nation to be in a state of emergency.

What happens during an emergency?

  • There are three different types of emergencies that can be imposed:

    a) National Emergency - If there is threat from other countries or militant groups to India or a certain part of it, the President can impose National Emergency under Article 352. The Prime Minister first has to submit a written by the council of Ministers. The federal system of government can be changed to a single unit comprising of all three functions which include governance and law. All State money bills during this time will have to go through the Parliament for approval.

    b) State Emergency - This can be declared under Article 356, if the government collapses in a state and is seen as a ‘failure of constitutional machinery’ in that particular state. It is also known as ‘President’s Rule’ and almost every state in the country has gone through this procedure. It can be invoked for a period of six months and can last only for three years with parliamentary consent required every six months. The Governor usually administers the services in the name of the President.

    c) Financial Emergency - Under Article 360, if the there is enough evidence to show that the financial status of the country is threatened, the President can declare an emergency. It remains enforced till he/she removes it. Salaries of different government officials can be reduced and all money bills require the President’s signature.

     

  • The President consults the cabinet ministers if any of the above situations arise and by the powers vested to him/her by Part XVIII (emergency provisions) of the constitution, he/she can remove many constitutional provisions such as some of the fundamental rights. Powers of the state governments are also reduced.

Do emergencies happen in different countries as well?

  • Emergencies do happen in most countries across the world, which could be due to internal conflicts, external aggression, financial situations or even due to natural disasters.
  • Under the International Law, rights and freedoms can be suspended under the emergency provision. Some countries make it illegal to modify the constitution during an emergency whereas some have made provisions to do so.
  • Though democracies do not usually impose emergencies, it is a fairly common practice in countries where there is a monarch or powers rest mostly in a single person.

During a National emergency the government has the right to take away your fundamental rights which include the six freedoms under Right to Freedom; however, Right to Life and Personal Liberty cannot be suspended. The Rights have been explained below:

Right to freedom: Which includes speech and expression, assembly, association or union or cooperatives, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality), right to life and liberty, right to education, protection in respect to conviction in offences and protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Right to life: Which gives the right to live with human dignity. This includes rights such as right to education, health, shelter and basic amnesties that the state shall provide.

Do you think there is a possibility of India entering into an emergency? Share your comments below or tweet to us at #JaagoRe.

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