Polity NIOS Chapter 09 Emergency Provisions

The Constitution of India has provided for imposition of emergency caused by war, external
aggression or internal rebellion. This is described as the National Emergency. This type of
emergency can be declared by the President of India if he is satisfied that the situation is
very grave and the security of India or any part thereof is threatened or is likely to be
threatened either (i) by war or external aggression or (ii) by armed rebellion within the
country. The President can issue such a proclamation even on the ground of threat of war
or aggression.
According to the 44th Amendment of the Constitution, 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
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.

In case the Lok Sabha stands dissolved at the time of proclamation of emergency or is not
in session, it has to be approved by the Rajya Sabha within one month and later on by the
Lok Sabha also within one month of the start of its next session. Once approved by the
Parliament, the emergency remains in force for a period of six months from the date of
proclamation. In case it is to be extended beyond six months, another prior resolution has
to be passed by the Parliament. In this way, such emergency continues indefinitely. But if
the situation improves the emergency can be revoked by another proclamation by the
President of India.

The 44th Amendment of the Constitution provides that ten per cent or more members of
the Lok Sabha can requisition a meeting of the Lok Sabha and in that meeting, it can
disapprove or revoke the emergency by a simple majority. In such a case emergency will
immediately become inoperative.

National Emergency has been declared in our country three times so far.
For the first time, emergency was declared on 26 October 1962 after China attacked our borders in the
North East. This National Emergency lasted till 10 January 1968, long after the hostilities ceased.
For the second time, it was declared on 3 December 1971 in the wake of the second India-Pakistan War and was lifted on 21 March 1977. While the second emergency, on the basis
of external aggression, was in operation, third National Emergency (called internal
emergency) was imposed on 25 June 1975. This emergency was declared on the ground
of ‘internal disturbances’. Internal disturbances justified impositin 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.
Effects of National Emergency:

(i) The most significant effect is that the federal form of the Constitution changes into
unitary. 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.
(ii) The President of India can issue directions to the states as to the manner in which
the executive power of the states is to be exercised.
(iii) During this period, the Lok Sabha can extend its tenure by a period of one year at a
time. But the same cannot be extended beyond six months after the proclamation
ceases to operate. The tenure of State Assemblies can also be extended in the same
(iv) During emergency, the President is empowered to modify the provisions regarding
distribution of revenues between the Union and the States.
(v) The Fundamental Rights under Article 19 about which you have already learnt are
automatically suspended and this suspension continues till the end of the emergency.
But according to the 44thAmendment, Freedoms listed in Article 19 can be suspended
only in case of proclamation on the ground of war or external aggression.
Under Article 356, the President may issue a proclamation to impose emergency in a state if he is satisfied on receipt of a report from the Governor of the State, or otherwise, that a situation has arisen under which the Government of the State cannot be carried on smoothly. In such a situation, proclamation of emergency by the President is called ‘proclamation on account of the
failure (or breakdown) of constitutional machinery.’ In popular language it is called the
President’s Rule.
Like National Emergency, such a proclamation must also be placed before both the Houses
of Parliament for approval. In this case approval must be given within two months, otherwise
the proclamation ceases to operate. If approved by the Parliament, the proclamation remains
valid for six months at a time. It can be extended for another six months but not beyond
one year. However, emergency in a State can be extended beyond one year if
(a) a National Emergency is already in operation; or if
(b) the Election Commission certifies that the election to the State Assembly cannot be
Effects of Imposition of President’s Rule in a State:
The declaration of emergency due to the breakdown of Constitutional machinery in a
State has the following effects:
(i) The President can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the State
Government or he may vest all or any of those functions with the Governor or any
other executive authority.
(ii) The President may dissolve the State Legislative Assembly or put it under suspension.
He may authorise the Parliament to make laws on behalf of the State Legislature.
(iii) The President can make any other incidental or consequential provision necessary to
give effect to the object of proclamation.
The third type of Emergency is Financial Emergency provided underArticle 360. It provides
that if the President is satisfied that the financial stability or credit of India or any of its part
is in danger, he may declare a state of Financial Emergency. Like the other two types of
emergencies, it has also to be approved by the Parliament. It must be approved by both
Houses of Parliament within two months. Financial Emergency can operate as long as the
situation demands and may be revoked by a subsequent proclamation.

Effects of Financial Emergency:
The proclamation of Financial Emergency may have the following consequences:
(a) The Union Government may give direction to any of the States regarding financial
(b) The President may ask the States to reduce the salaries and allowances of all or any
class of persons in government service.
(c) The President may ask the States to reserve all the money bills for the consideration
of the Parliament after they have been passed by the State Legislature.
(d) The President may also give directions for the reduction of salaries and allowances
of the Central Government employees including the Judges of the Supreme Court
and the High Courts.
So far, fortunately, financial emergency has never been proclaimed.


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