Editorial

Why 'Emergency' Was Imposed In June 1975 – A Timeline Of Events

On this day back in 1975, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi imposed the "Emergency" which was followed by the black chapters of India's history.

Here we shed light on the events which led to this decision, the decision which changed Indian politics and polity forever.

It all started when popular socialist leader Raj Narain lost to Indira Gandhi in 1971 Lok Sabha elections from Rae Bareli. Not one to go down without a fight, he then filed a case against the Prime Minister at the Allahabad High court in which he alleged that she had resorted to electoral malpractices and this was in violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. As per several reports, it was also believed that Gandhi had put her personal staff into use for election-related work.

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What followed next disrupted the ecosystem as Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha not only convicted Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices but also disqualified her from Parliament. Also, he imposed a six-year ban on her against holding any elected post.

As per Justice Sinha, Gandhi was guilty of a corrupt practice under section 123(7) of the Act and hence, she “accordingly stands disqualified for a period of six years from the date of this order”.

The Ball Was In Indira Gandhi’s Court

Indira Gandhi was not going down like this. This is when Sanjay Gandhi was ruling the roost, not only in the party but also in the policies, and with his advice, Indira Gandhi appealed in the Supreme Court against High Court ruling.

However, on June 24 1975, the Supreme Court judge, Justice VR Krishna Iyer, announced that he would not put a complete stay on the decision, but then, he did allow her to stay on Prime Minister, but then, she would not be eligible to vote as an MP and even draw her salary as the Member of Parliament until the final verdict was pronounced.

Now, it was during this time, protests broke out all across the country. Indira Gandhi, who was still the Prime Minister, sought the meeting of the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and during this midnight meeting on June 25.

 

Gandhi cited ‘Internal Unrest’ as the reason behind the same and immediately after this, a number of prominent opposition leaders were arrested and put behind bars. This included Jayaprakash Narayan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Morarji Desai were arrested.

 

Also, there was radio the broadcast which was held on the next day where Indira Gandhi addressed the people and said that the deep conspiracy had been brewing against that the government owing to which she was forced to impose Emergency.

 

This was when sanctions were imposed on press freedom and free speech. Several reputed journalists were sent to jail. Anyone who was found writing or speaking against emergency was put behind bars. A rough estimate says that almost 11 lakh people were arrested and sent to jails.

 

On March 21, 1977, the Emergency was finally lifted.