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Home > Know Your Rights > Rights during National Emergency
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Q1.  What is meant by National emergency?

A1.  National Emergency is an emergency situation declared by the President of India when it appears to him that security of the territory of India is under danger by war, external aggression, or armed rebellion. It equips the Union Government with vast powers to cope up with the abnormal situations.


Q2.  What happens during a National Emergency?

A2.  The most significant effects of a National Emergency are:

1. The federal form of the Constitution changes into unitary that is the authority of the Centre increases and the Parliament assumes the power to make laws for the entire country or any part thereof, even in respect of subjects mentioned in the State List.

2. During Emergency period, the Lok Sabha can extend its term by a period of 1 year at a time. But the same cannot be extended beyond 6 months after the proclamation ceases to operate. The tenure of State Assemblies can also be extended in the same manner.

3. During emergency, the President is empowered to modify the provisions regarding distribution of revenues between the Union and the States.

4. The Fundamental Rights under Article 19 are automatically suspended and this suspension continues till the end of the emergency.


Q3.  Are all fundamental rights taken away during an emergency?

A3.  No, during an emergency, the two fundamental rights cannot be taken away.

1. Right to life and personal liberty cannot be suspended even during an emergency.

2. Right to protection in case of conviction for offences can also not be taken away during emergency.


Q4.  How many times National Emergency has been declared in India?

A4.  National Emergency has been declared three times in India.

1. First National emergency was declared on 26 October 1962 after China attacked India in the North East. This National Emergency lasted till 10 January 1968.

2. For the second time, it was declared on 3 December 1971 due to the second India-Pakistan War and was lifted on 21 March 1977.

3. Third National Emergency (called internal emergency) was imposed on 25 June 1975 while the second National Emergency (due to war) was still in operation. This emergency was declared on the ground of ‘internal disturbances’. Internal disturbances justified imposing of the emergency despite the fact that the government was already armed with the powers provided during the second National Emergency of 1971 which was still in operation.

Q5.  Can the President declare emergency on his own?
A5.  Proclamation of National Emergency is made by the President of the country, but there are some conditions for that. The President can declare such an emergency only if the Cabinet recommends in writing to do so. Such a proclamation of emergency has to be approved by both the Houses of Parliament that is, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha by absolute majority of the total membership of the Houses as well as 2/3 majority of members present and voting within one month, otherwise the proclamation ceases to operate.

Q6.  For how long can Emergency remain in force?
A6.  An emergency, once approved by Parliament, remains in force for a period of six months from the date of proclamation. For extending it beyond six months, another prior resolution has to be passed by the Parliament. In this way, such emergency can continue indefinitely.


Q7.  During National Emergency all fundamental rights except for right to life and right to protection in conviction for offences, are suspended. Does that mean that I cannot approach the court under my right to Constitutional Remedies if any of my fundamental right has been denied to me?
A7.  Yes, during an emergency, President can suspend the right to move any court of law for the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights. However, such order is subject to approval from the Parliament.

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