The Allahabad High Court on 12 June 1975 found the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi, guilty of election fraud and use of state machinery for the 1971 parliamentary election purposes. Her election was declared null and void and the court banned her from contesting any elections for additional six years. Raj Narian, an Indian freedom fighter who lodged this case against her and fought for justice, finally got it after 4 years of struggle!
However, no one knew that the biggest threat to democracy is yet to come. On 24th June 1975, the Supreme Court of India upheld the Allahabad High Court’s decision of finding Mrs Indira Gandhi guilty. However, the biggest mistake the Supreme Court of India did was allowing Mrs Indira Gandhi to continue as Prime Minister, pending the resolution of her appeal.
The symptoms of Emergency were there under Mrs. Indira Ganhi, but no one felt Emergency will be imposed. The lands were snatched from owners by the government. Supreme Court even questioned government intentions. The judiciary is stopped from questioning by making amendments to the constitution. Mrs Indira Gandhi started to clamp her authority after her resounding victory in the 1971 general elections by elevating her loyalists in the judiciary and appointing them to the Prime Minister’s office.
Own party men and women started to show dissent against her dictatorial leadership. The judiciary and public were suffering equally, silently. People realized their mistake of electing her in 1971 and started agitation against her. The famous Nav Nirman student movement began in Gujarat against the government. Her commendable leadership during Bangladesh’s liberation can’t be ignored, but bad governance and corruption were growing, and the public was becoming restless.
Jai Prakash Narayan, a popular leader among Indians united all the Indians to fight against the dictatorial regime. People across India joined him. Strikes across India happened to ask to dissolve the government in Punjab, Bihar and many other states George Fernandes led the protest by Railways.
Protests were brutally suppressed. Leaders jailed. People were approaching the judiciary for justice, and Raj Narian was one of them. He contested the 1971 general election against Mrs Indira Gandhi and lost because of electoral malpractice for which she was found guilty.
Punishing the guilty was delayed, and Emergency invoking articles 352 and 356 of the Indian Constitution Indira Gandhi granted herself extraordinary powers and launched a massive crackdown on civil rights and political opposition. Lakhs of people were arrested and jailed. Press freedom curtailed.
After 21 months of struggle, Indians punished the dictatorial regime run by Mrs Indira Gandhi by dethroning her in Indian General Election in 1977.
Learning is here for everyone.
When you are found someone guilty, you must strip them of all their powers then and there. The mistake by the judiciary allowed Mrs Indira Gandhi to use her powers even after being found guilty, and that stripped off all Indian’s basic rights.
A State of Emergency was declared, and India went into Darkness for 21 months!