India is known for having the world’s largest democracy. The country’s special thing is that, despite having vast diversity across the country, its democratic structure has worked successfully since its independence.
It was the aspiration and desires of the leaders and peoples of India who participated in the national struggle movement for the cause of India’s independence, that the country should follow the principles of the Democratic nation.
The period of emergency in India refers to the 19 months from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977.
Now, we will discuss why the 1975 Emergency is known as the “Darkest Hours in Indian Democracy.”
The answer is hidden in Congress’s some evil steps that were taken in the view of maintaining national integrity or unity in India. They’ve started unfollowing the ideas and principles of a democratic nation, which later came as a result of declaring a countrywide national emergency in India in 1975.
Indira Gandhi declares an emergency under Article 352 of the Indian Constitution a few minutes before midnight on June 25, 1975, in order to protecot her own position.
The period of emergency in India has shaken the structure of democracy in India for a short duration.
Generally, an emergency is declared for an internal disturbance threatening the internal security of India under Article 352 of the Indian Constitution.
Although there was movement throughout the country, particularly in Gujarat and Bihar. We also cannot deny that most of the movements that occurred prior to the emergency were peaceful and that the internal disturbances caused no harm.
In the next section, we will broadly describe it.
Reasons for the Emergency Declaration
- Due to the inefficient policy of Congress, the people of India, especially in North India, altogether stand against INC. Therefore, to maintain or handle the situation on her own, she declared an emergency in India at midnight on June 25, 1975.
- The situation of opposing the activity of Congress is the biggest reason for the declaration of an emergency. In 1973-74, increasing oil prices and monsoon failure were the causes of the economic crisis.
- The regular strike of railway workers interrupts the activity of government offices and the daily work of the public.
- The Congress Party lost power as a result of the growing strike and movement in Gujarat and Bihar. Under the leadership of JP (Jay Prakash Narayan), all opposition parties collectively passed the No-Confidence motion against the Congress govt.
- The controversial conflict between the Judiciary and the Executive is another major reason for the emergency declaration.
Overlook the emergence of Indira Gandhi in politics.
Following Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s untimely death in 1966, there is an immediate need for a new prime minister, and the question of who will be the next prime minister has been raised.
The Congress committee chooses Indira Gandhi as his next prime minister. Indira Gandhi entered politics and split the Congress into two parts in 1969: the Congress (O) led by Morarji Desai and some old members of the Congress, and the Congress (R) led by Indira Gandhi and some loyal members to her.
During 1967–71, it increased the personality of Indira Gandhi in front of people because of its effective policy measures, such as the 1971 slogan “Garibi Hatao”. This slogan attracts the many backward classes of the country. As a result, Congress gained victory with (352 out of 518)
But after 1971, the situation in India worsened with every passing year.
The impact of the emergency
The government stopped the freedom of the press and told newspaper publishers without the prior recommendation of the government that they couldn’t publish anything. It is called “Press-censorship”.
The government restricts the activities of the RSS (Rashtriya Swaynsevak Sangh and Jamat-a-Islami) to address communal and social imbalances.
Ineffectual of citizens’ certain rights, and they also don’t have the right to knock on the door of court in case of violation.
The government also uses preventive detention in high measures during an emergency. In this provision, the government arrests and detains any person without telling him or her the reason for the detention.
MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) was also used to look for internal security.
In the early morning of the emergency declaration, many opposition leaders and members were arrested and put under house arrest, and the few leaders who managed to escape were arrested and put under house arrest.
Above all, the discussion has proved that the government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi misuses state machinery and guards its position at the cost of democracy.
Another negative aspect of the emergency was imposing censorship on the media. The media is considered the fourth pillar of Indian democracy. During the period of emergency, it loses its autonomous character.
The freedom of the press was curbed during the emergency in India, and no one could produce and publish any news that threatened the government. Without the prior recommendation of the government, no news would be published.
Some news has been published but it only represents the good activity of the government and this was the major threat to Indian democracy.
The judiciary, another important pillar of democracy, was always seen as opposing the executive. During an emergency, many of the supreme court’s verdicts on the appeals of people have nullified the use of the executive.
So it is adequate to say that the 1975 Emergency is the darkest hour in Indian democracy.