SC notice to govt. on plea seeking declaration of Emergency as ‘unconstitutional’

A view of the Supreme Court of India.  


The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine whether a “simplictor declaration” that the Emergency of 1975 was unconstitutional will be feasible or desirable after the passage of 45 years.

A Bench led by Justice S.K. Kaul reluctantly, and after much persuasion from senior advocate Harish Salve, agreed to consider the limited question on a request made by 94-year-old Veera Sarin, who said the “errors of history should be corrected and never happen again".

“Something wrong may have happened at a particular point of history... But it has been 45 years now. Many of the persons are no longer with us...”, Justice Kaul, leading a three-judge Bench, expressed his doubts.

But Mr. Salve, for Ms. Sarin, replied “this may perhaps be the right time to do it”.

“There was abuse of powers... If we do not tend to correct the errors of history, it will go on. For 19 months, the fundamental rights of this country were under the jackboots. We have to revisit this error. She [Sarin] wants a declaration that the Emergency was unconstitutional. For that, she cannot go to any other court”, Mr. Salve submitted.

The court issued notice to the government.


During the hearing, Justice Kaul, amidst discussion with his Bench mates, tried to dissuade Mr. Salve, saying “digging up the Emergency” now would be odd as the people involved were no more.

“Hitler is dead and gone, but even now people in their eighties and nineties are pulled for their crimes against humanity”, Mr. Salve replied.

“One cannot cannot compare this with the Holocaust and its consequences”, Justice Kaul tried to bridle the petitioner side.

“It [Emergency] is not that old... Our generation is still around. Our friends and colleagues were put in jail. McCarthyism was happening then... What happened to a nascent democracy was a fraud on the Constitution... This great assault on the Constitution must be examined... We have an advanced court. Should we not as citizens have our court decide this ultimate abuse of power?”, Mr. Salve persisted.

Amendments to plea

The court allowed him to make some amendments to the petition by December 18.

In her petition, Ms. Sarin, also represented by advocates Anannya Ghosh and Neela Gokhale, said she and her family were victims of the excesses of that “grave and dark period of our nation’s history”.

Their gold jewellery and diamond business based in Karol Bagh and Connaught Place in the National Capital were plundered by the government authorities during the Emergency period when civil rights and liberties were suspended. Her husband never recovered from the shock of the family business going under and eventually died.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 11:54:04 AM |

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