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A Simple Note on National Emergency

In this article, we will tell about the national emergency in India.

When you hear the word national emergency what things come to your mind. I can guarantee that most of you will see the face of Indira Gandhi. You will think about an environment of tension and fear as well, but the name of our past Prime Minister immediately echoes in our minds when we hear about a national emergency. This is because Indira Gandhi’s sudden and mysterious decision received a lot of backlash from all the politicians and had an adverse effect on the Indian economy. The emergency was one of the darkest periods in the history of India as it was a time of uncertainty, confusion and stress. You will be surprised to know that a national emergency in India has been announced three times. If you don’t know what I am talking about then keep reading this article.

What is a National Emergency?

National Emergency can be referred to as a state of emergency caused by war, external aggression, or armed rebellion. In India, the provisions of the national emergency have been mentioned in article 352. It must be noted that an emergency can only be declared if the country is in danger and not in personal interest. During an emergency, the fundamental rights of the citizens are temporarily suspended. When a national emergency is declared because of war or external aggression, it is called an external emergency. Although when it is declared on the grounds of armed rebellion then it is known as an internal emergency. During the 44th amendment, the term armed rebellion was inserted in the Constitution of India. Before it was known as an internal disturbance.

National Emergency Article 352

According to this article, the President has the power to declare a national emergency when he/she feels that the security of the country is in danger due to war, external aggression, or armed rebellion. The President can declare a state of emergency even before the event has occurred if he/she believes that there is an imminent danger.

National Emergency in India

A national emergency in India has been declared three times. The first one was declared between the period of 26th October 1962 to 10th January 1968 by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during the India-China war. The second one was declared on 3rd December 1971 due to the war between India and Pakistan by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. At this time the state of emergency was not revoked. Even when the second emergency was still in effect, a third emergency was declared on 25 June 1975. The first two were declared on the grounds of external expression. On the other hand, the last one was issued on the basis of internal disturbance.

Let’s talk more about the third national emergency since it was a very controversial decision and people still today are not sure why such a fearful situation was announced. On 26th June 1975 Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the then President of India declared a national emergency on the recommendation of Indira Gandhi. The Prime Minister announced an emergency on All India Radio announcing the third national emergency. The citizens of India were shocked to hear this news since they were not able to understand why this decision was taken. Even Gandhi’s Cabinet ministers who received the news just before the airing on the radio were not able to join the dots. This emergency came to an end on 21st March 1977.

Why was the National Emergency Imposed in India?

Hare, are the 2 primary reasons why Indira Gandhi imposed the national emergency in India. 

Navnirman Andolan in Gujarat

In December 1973, students of L D College of Engineering in Ahmedabad were unhappy with the hike in school fees. To show their anger they went on a strike. This later transformed into a rageful movement when a month later students of Gujarat University started a protest and demanded the dismissal of the state government. Back then Gujarat was governed by Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel. The government was famous for its corruption and this is why the protest to a certain degree was justifiable. Factory workers and other people from different groups joined the student protests and soon this situation between the government got worse. Buses were burned, fights with police escalated and ration shops were attacked on a daily basis. The central government was forced to fulfil the demand of the protest. Congress asked Chimanbhai Patel to resign from his position. The assembly was dissolved and the president’s rule was imposed. Lastly, fresh elections were held.

Indira Gandhi was Found Guilty

For many people, this is the primary reason why the Prime Minister declared a national emergency. In 1971 when Indira Gandhi won the Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, the defeated party leader accused Indira Gandhi of conducting electoral malpractices during the election. Later, it was found out that Indira Gandhi was using her agent Yashpal Kapoor who was a government servant for personal election-related work. She was found guilty, and a six-year ban was imposed on her which restricted her from holding any elected post. Immediately on the next day she declared a national emergency and suspended all the fundamental human rights. Media was not allowed to release any press or record anything. Indira Gandhi’s opposition leaders were put up in jail.


As you can see there is an interesting story behind the national emergency that was declared in India. Now, don’t think that an emergency is a terrible thing. When the country is facing a lot of political, social and economic problems along with weak external and internal security the emergency is the only thing that can reduce the harmful effects to a certain level. Just remember that article 352 includes the provisions of the national emergency.


Frequently asked questions

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How many national emergencies have been declared in India?

In total 3 national emergencies have been declared in India. The first one took place between the period of 26th Oct...Read full

A national emergency can be declared under which article?

A national emergency can be declared under article 352.


Who declares a national emergency in India?

A national emergency in India can be declared by the President.