The Constitution of India provides special Emergency Provisions in Part 18 under Articles 352 to 360. These are the provisions provided by the Constitution makers to safeguard the sovereignty, unity, security of the country and its democratic as well as political situations during the time of crisis. Emergency means a combination of unforeseen situations that can cause a great threat to lives, health, economy, peace by creating catastrophic situations.
When the Emergency is imposed in India, the federal system of the country converts into a unitary one and the whole power goes in the hands of the central government. Once Dr B R Ambedkar expressed his views on this special feature of Constitution in constituent assembly by saying:
“All Federal systems including American are placed in a tight mould of federalism. No matter what the circumstances, it cannot change its form and shape. It can never be unitary. On the other hand, the constitution of India can be both unitary as well as Federal according to the requirement of the time and circumstances. In normal times it is free to work as a federal system but in times of emergency it is designed to make it work as though it was a unitary system.“
Emergency Provisions in Indian Constitution
There is a provision of three types of emergency in India: National Emergency, President’s Rule and Financial Emergency.
Article 352 of the Indian constitution provides for a National Emergency. It is imposed by the President at a time of war, external aggression or arms rebellion to ensure the security of the nation. It is denoted as ‘proclamation of emergency’ by the constitution.
When the emergency situation is declared on the ground of war or external aggression this kind of emergency is known as ‘External Emergency’ and when it is declared in the situation of arms rebellion it is known as ‘Internal emergency’. Here are some points that come handley from an exam perspective:
- The President can limit the National emergency to a specific part of the country, as per the 42nd amendment act of 1976.
- The National emergency can be proclaimed only after receiving a written recommendation from the cabinet.
- The proclamation of emergency needs to be approved by both houses of Parliament within a period of one month.
- It is imposed for a minimum period of 6 months and can be extended to an indefinite period with an approval of the Parliament for every 6 months.
- The emergency can be revoked by a resolution of disapproval passed by the Lok Sabha only.
- National Emergency has been declared three times so far; 1962,1971,1975. 1992, 1971 was an External Emergency and 1975 was an Internal Emergency.
- The right to freedom under article 19 of the Constitution is suspended during National Emergency under article 358.
President’s Rule In Emergency
This is the second type of emergency provided in the article 356. In the case of failure of state governance, the centre has a right to take over all the executive powers of the particular state. It is also known as ‘State Emergency’ or ‘Constitutional Emergency’. President’s rule can be imposed on 2 grounds as per article 356 and 365. Article 365 says when the situation becomes out of the hands of the state government, the President can take the direct charge of the state. Here are some points to be noted for President’s rule:
- President’s rule can be imposed only after the approval of both houses of Parliament within a period of 2 months.
- It can be imposed for a minimum period of 6 months and for a maximum period of 3 years.
- The President administers the state through the Governor and during that tenure, the laws are made by the Parliament.
- The state emergency can be revoked by only the President.
- For the first time president rule was imposed in Punjab in 1951. It has been imposed on more than 100 occasions since 1950.
- President’s rule has been imposed 10 times in Manipur followed by 9 times in Uttar Pradesh and 8 times in Bihar and Punjab each.
Under Article 360, provision of financial emergency is given. At the time of economic crisis or a situation which can cause financial instability, the President has a right to impose financial emergency under Article 360 of Indian Constitution. Important points to be noted here for financial emergency:
- It is imposed with the approval of both houses of Parliament within a period of 2 months from the date of its issue.
- There is no maximum period prescribed for Financial Emergency.
- The proclamation of a financial emergency can be passed by either House of Parliament only by a simple majority, the members of that house present and voting.
- Financial Emergency can be revoked by the President at any time.
- Dr BR Ambedkar explained the inclusion of financial emergency provisions in the Constituent Assembly as, ‘this article more or less follow the National Recovery Act, 1933 of the United States, which gave the President power to make similar provisions in order to overcome the difficulties of American people caused as a result of the Great Depression of the 1930s.’
- Financial Emergency hasn’t been imposed in India so far. But in 1991, it was a close situation to proclaim a Financial emergency due to a balance of payment crisis. But it never has been declared.
Important Articles of Emergency Provisions in India
Article 352: Proclamation of emergency.
Article 353: Effects of proclamation of Emergency.
Article 354: Application of provisions relating to distribution of revenues while a proclamation of emergency is in operation.
Article 355: Duty of the union to protect the states against external aggression and internal disturbance.
Article 356: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States.
Article 357: Exercise of Legislative powers under proclamation issued under article 356.
Article 358: Suspension of provisions of article 19 during emergencies.
Article 359: Suspension of the enforcement of the rights conferred by part 3 during emergency.
Article 360: Provisions as to financial emergency.