New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: On June 25 in 1975, former Prime Minister and one of the most known faces in Indian politics, Indira Gandhi, took the most controversial decision and imposed an Emergency across the country.

Often known as the darkest phase of Indian political history, the Emergency remained intact for 21 months and changed the dynamics of the country’s political system. On June 25, the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signed the proclamation imposing National Emergency in the country.

During the emergency period, various political leaders, student leaders and trade unionists who were voicing against the Congress-led government were imprisoned. Several journalists were also put behind the bars.

Why the Emergency was imposed?

In the year 1971, Indira Gandhi won the General Election with a thumping majority, with Congress winning 352 seats of the total 518 Lok Sabha seats. The thumping victory changed the image of Indira Gandhi and the leader was hailed as Iron Lady across the country.

Years after ruling the country, Indira Gandhi started to face criticism for her controversial decisions and allegations by the opposition leaders over the misuse of the government machinery. Although the Emergency was imposed on 25 June 1975, its foundation was laid on June 12 that year.

On June 12, 1975, Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of Allahabad High Court, ruled on a petition filed by United Socialist Party candidate Rajnarayan. In the petition, Rajnarayan had alleged that Indira Gandhi bribed voters with liquor and misused the Air Force planes for her election campaign.

The Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of misusing government machinery for election purposes and also cancelled her elections. Justice Sinha even barred Indira Gandhi from contesting elections for six years. The decision by Allahabad High Court eventually meant that Indira Gandhi would have to leave her post as the Prime Minister  

Soon after the judgement, Indira Gandhi called an emergency meeting at her residence in New Delhi, where she sought advice from Congress leaders. On the advice of Sanjay Gandhi, Indira appealed in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court’s order.

However, the Supreme Court judge, Justice VR Krishna Iyer, on June 24, 1975, denied putting a complete stay on Allahabad High Court’s order. The top court allowed Gandhi to remain as the Prime Minister, however, ruled out that she could not vote as an MP until the final verdict.

Shortly after the apex court’s decision, protests and demonstrations against the Congress-led government started in the country. Because of the uproar against her power, Indira Gandhi, on June 25, 1975, got the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to declare the National Emergency.

Indira Gandhi cited internal unrest as the reason for the declaration of emergency. In a radio address to the nation, via All India Radio, Indira Gandhi said that a deep conspiracy was hatched against the Congress-led government which is why Emergency had to be imposed.

What were the conditions during the Emergency period?

After the national emergency was imposed, political leaders of opposition parties including Lal Krishna Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai and Jayaprakash Narayan were sent to jail. Several journalists were also imprisoned and the freedom of the press was taken away. According to reports, around 11 lakh people were imprisoned during the 21-month long emergency period.  

It is said that at that time the country did not run from the Prime Minister's Office but the Prime Minister's residence. On March 21, 1977, the Emergency ended.

Posted By: Talib Khan