Discuss the need for National Emergency.
- Introduction: Explain what National Emergency is briefly along with the articles.
- Body: Highlight the advantages and disadvantages of having the provision of Emergency in the constitution. Mention the emergencies declared before along with the controversies.
- Conclusion: Provide the way forward to use the national emergency effectively. (Use the safeguards added in 44th CAA)
The Emergency provisions are contained in Part XVIII of the Constitution, from Articles 352 to 360. These provisions enable the Central government to meet any abnormal situation effectively. The rationality behind the incorporation of these provisions in the Constitution is to safeguard the sovereignty, unity, integrity and security of the country, the democratic political system, and the Constitution.
During an Emergency, the Central government becomes all powerful and the states go into the total control of the Centre.
Some members of the Constituent Assembly criticised the incorporation of emergency provisions in the Constitution on the following grounds:
- ‘The federal character of the Constitution will be destroyed and the Union will become all powerful.
- The powers of the State—both the Union and the units—will entirely be concentrated in the hands of the Union executive.
- The President will become a dictator.
- The financial autonomy of the state will be nullified.
- Fundamental rights will become meaningless and, as a result, the democratic foundations of the Constitution will be destroyed.
The rules around the Proclamation of Emergency were strictly modified and outlined after the Emergency in 1975. The Emergency was a cross road by which India graduated to the formation of stronger democracy. Rule of Law was re-asserted and the value of free speech and dissent reestablished.
However, as we continue to remain in our formative stage of democracy, there are still many persisting questions, waiting to be answered. Certainly, India is not under another official emergency. Yet, several dissenters, opposition leaders, scholars, students, and intellectuals continued to be picked up, tortured, and detained without trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. This Act allows the perpetual detention of accused persons without trial. The onus of proof is shifted to the accused. Poets, over 80 years of age, accused under the Act continue to struggle in jails for over 2 years despite threats of Covid-19 Pandemic Contemporary India celebrates its freedom when a pregnant woman is granted bail on ‘humanitarian’ grounds after months of incarceration. Our threshold of a democratic dream is diminishing everyday. Forty five years ago, we had fought the demon of authoritarianism with our solidarity, conscience and collective resolve. With that legacy before us, there is afterall, still a long way before our democracy wakes up to the dawn of complete freedom and abundant justice.