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National Emergency

There are many powers in the hands of the President and emergency powers is one of them. Emergency powers include National Emergency, President's Rule and Financial Emergency. In this article we will understand national emergency under the Constitution of India.

Under Article 352 of the Constitution of India, the President can proclaim a national emergency and that must get approved by both the houses (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) within a period of one month. After approval, the emergency continues up to six months.

During the period of National Emergency, the President acquires certain additional powers and can give directions to any State with respect to the manner in which execution of powers are required to be done. He can do modifications pattern of distribution of financial resources amongst the Union and the States. The President can suspend all the Fundamental Rights during National Emergency except for Article 20 and 21.

National Emergency
Article 352 clause (1) explains that the President can declare a situation as national emergency where he is satisfied that there might be a threat to the security of India through war, or any external aggression (armed rebellion). The whole of India or that part whose territory is in danger. Proclamation of such emergency can be before the actual occurrence of such war or aggression if the President is convinced that there might be an immediate threat or danger.

A proclamation of National Emergency can be revoked as given under Clause (2) of Article 352. It can be revoked by the President at any time by another subsequent proclamation or it can be varied. The proclamation for revocation does not require the approval of the Parliament. The emergency can be revoked by another way, if the Lok Sabha passes a resolution by showing disapproval through simple majority, then the proclamation for emergency must be revoked.

Article 358 and 359 explains what the effects of National Emergency are on the Fundamental Rights of the citizens. Clause (1) of Article 358 says that Article 19 will be suspended during a situation declared as National Emergency by the President.

Article 19 explains the right to freedom and their protection. It includes the right to freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably without arms, to form associations or unions, to move freely throughout the territory of India, to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

Article 359 explains that enforcement of the rights conferred by the part III (Article 12 to 35) will get suspended during a National Emergency. It excludes Article 20 and Article 21 as they cannot be suspended at any situation. Article 20 include the protection in respect of conviction of offences and Article 21 includes protection of life and personal liberty. Here by suspension, it means that the remedial measures are suspended not the right itself. Only the enforcement of those rights gets suspended which are specifically mentioned in the order given by the President.

National Emergencies in India so far:
  1. October 1962 for the Chinese aggression in the North East Frontier Agency. It was in force till January 1968.
  2. December 1971 due to the attack done by Pakistan, generally know as the Indo-Pak War of 1971 it lasted till March 1977.
  3. The proclamation of the third emergency was done while the second was still going on. The third proclamation was done in June 1975 and lasted till March 1977.
There are situations which might be of such nature that they are threatening the security of an entire nation such as a war, during such times for the safety of its citizens, the President of India declares such situation as National Emergency. For their own safety and to respect the decisions of the Union, citizens must comply with the temporary rules made.

Written By Sandhya Prabhakaran

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