June 25, 1975-1977: PM Modi says 'dark days' of Emergency can never be forgotten

PM Narendra Modi on Friday said those 'dark days' can never be forgotten when the 21-month period witnessed a systematic destruction of institutions.

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June 25, 1975-1977: PM Modi says 'dark days' of Emergency can never be forgotten
(Image Source: File Photo)


June 25, 2021, marks the completion of 46 years when the state of emergency was imposed in India by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The period from 1975 to 1977 was marked by massive media censorship, restrictions on civil rights, and a forced mass sterilisation campaign.

The Emergency remained in effect from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977, and is to this date regarded as a dark phase in independent India's history because this period was marked by a government crackdown on civil liberties, frequent human rights violations, and the press being censored to a repressive extent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a stinging attack on the Congress today over the 1975 Emergency saying the 21-month period 'witnessed a systematic destruction of institutions'.

What led to the declaration of Emergency

On June 12, 1975, Allahabad High Court convicted the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices and debarred her from holding any elected post.

Indira Gandhi had won the 1971 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh convincingly defeating socialist leader Raj Narain.

He later challenged her election alleging electoral malpractices and violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

It was alleged that her election agent Yashpal Kapoor was a government servant and that she used government officials for personal election-related work.

While convicting Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices, Justice Sinha disqualified her from Parliament and imposed a six-year ban on her holding any elected post.

The imposition of Emergency

The very next day Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency suspending all fundamental rights, putting opposition leaders in jails, and imposing censorship on the media.

Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal had proposed to the prime minister to impose an 'internal emergency'.

He drafted a letter for the President to issue the proclamation based on information Indira had received that 'there is an imminent danger to the security of India being threatened by internal disturbances'.

President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declared a state of internal emergency upon the Prime Minister's advice on the night of 25 June 1975, just a few minutes before the clock struck midnight.

Invoking Article 352 of the Indian Constitution, Indira Gandhi granted herself extraordinary powers and launched a massive crackdown on civil liberties and political opposition.

Reasons cited for declaring Emergency

The Congress government cited threats to national security, highlighting the recently-concluded war with Pakistan as a plank for its argument.

The goal of the 21-month-long Emergency was to control 'internal disturbance', for which the constitutional rights were suspended and freedom of speech and the press withdrawn.

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