The Supreme Court today agreed to examine whether it would be feasible or desirable to look into the Constitutional validity of the Emergency imposed by the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. The apex court was hearing a plea filed by a 94-year-old widow who wants the Emergency imposed 45 years ago to be declared “wholly unconstitutional”. The woman had also sought an amount of Rs 25 crore as compensation from authorities involved in imposing and enforcing the Emergency.
Hearing the plea, the bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy issued notice to the Central Government stating that the court would hear the petitioner on the limited aspect of whether the validity of such proclamation can be probed by the Court after the passage of “such a long time.”
“We are having difficulty. Emergency is something which should not have happened,” the top court observed while hearing the plea.
Arguing that the Court is empowered to examine the validity of the proclamation of emergency, senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for petitioner Veera Sarin, said that Emergency was a “fraud” and the “greatest assault” on the Constitution as rights were suspended for months.
94-year-old widow moves Supreme Court seeking for declaration of Emergency as unconstitutional
Petitioner Veera Sarin had on December 4, moved the SC seeking for declaration of Emergency as unconstitutional. Referring to the 2017 judgment of KS Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs. Union of India which overruled the decision of 5-Judge Bench in ADM Jabalpur v. Shiv Kant Shukla, the petition held that the end of the darkest chapter of the Indian democracy is yet to bring closure to the petitioner who had endured brutalities at the hands of those in power during the Emergency.
Petitioner seeks justice for the lifetime of misery and perennial sufferings due to the Emergency
In her plea, the Sarin argued that the then government authorities specifically targeted her and her husband with untenable and groundless detention orders, and they had to escape the country because of the government’s organised looting of businesses and homes of the victims.
The petitioner cited the Delhi High Court’s ruling passed in December 2014 which ultimately put an end to the proceeding against her deceased husband and stated that the valuables impounded from her husband’s prosperous and thriving business worth crores of rupees were yet to be returned.
She also alleged that the government authorities had during those days, seized valuable worth crores from the petitioner’s husband. “His business was shut down, assets and valuables including immovable property was seized and appropriated. The Petitioner’s husband succumbed to the pressure and died. Since then the Petitioner has been single-handedly facing all proceedings initiated against her husband during the Emergency period, which were arbitrarily pursued,” the petition stated.
The petitioner’s husband, HK Sarin, had a flourishing art and gem business in Karol Bagh and Connaught Place. However, shortly after the Emergency was imposed in June 1975, raids were conducted in commercial bases in Sarin and valuables, jewellery and artefacts were seized on suspected violations of the Customs Act.
The emergency was proclaimed minutes before the midnight of June 25, 1975, by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The proclamation was revoked in March 1977.