Plea to Declare Emergency ‘Unconstitutional’: SC Seeks Govt’s View

Advocate Harish Salve called the Emergency a “fraud” and the “greatest assault” on the Indian constitution.

Published
India
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The Supreme Court of India 
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The Supreme Court on Monday, 14 December, sought the Centre’s views on the plea filed by 94-year-old Vera Sarin, seeking to declare the 1975 Emergency as “wholly unconstitutional,” PTI reported.

The petitioner’s advocate, Harish Salve called the Emergency a “fraud” and the “greatest assault” on the Indian Constitution, as there was prolonged suspension of rights during it.

“It is too serious a matter to be left out. People of our generation could not do anything then. This lady has no political agenda. She has suffered and has come to court to seek a final closure on this issue. She would be happy to get a declaration that the Emergency declared was wrong,” Salve said, The Hindustan Times reported.

A bench headed by Justice SK Kaul agreed to hear the plea, but noted that it should be examined if it is “feasible or desirable” to look over the validity of proclamation of the Emergency 45 years after it was announced.

The apex court observed, “We are having difficulty. Emergency is something which should not have happened.”

The Plea

Vera Sarin had approached the court on Monday, 7 December, with a plea to declare the Emergency unconstitutional and seek a compensation for Rs 25 crore for the wrongful detention of her husband by government authorities.

The plea states that Sarin and her husband were compelled to leave the country for the fear of being jailed, "in pursuance of unjustifiable and arbitrary detention orders issued against the Petitioner’s husband," Bar and Bench reported.

Sarin’s husband worked with precious gems and artefacts, all of which were confiscated and never returned. The petition claims that after he died, Sarin has been dealing with the consequences of the legal proceedings initiated against him during the Emergency, alleging that “on many occasions, there used to be knocks on her door (and) policemen and other officials used to enter her home and used to leave her alone only after she offered them leftover pieces of valuables in her home.[sic]”

The Emergency was declared minutes before the midnight of 25 June 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was revoked after nearly two years, in March 1977.

(With inputs from PTI, Bar and Bench and Hindustan Times)

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