In the Indian constitutional framework, a state of emergency is a critical governance phase that can be invoked by the President of India in response to specific crisis situations.
These emergency provisions are outlined in Articles 352 to 360 of the Indian Constitution and are intended to address exceptional circumstances when normal governance mechanisms prove inadequate.
National Emergency (Article 352):
- A National Emergency can only be proclaimed when the security of India or a part of it is threatened by:
- External Aggression (External Emergency)
- Armed Rebellion (Internal Emergency)
- Example: The 1975 Emergency, declared by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during a period of political turmoil, is a well-known instance.
President’s Rule (State Emergency or Constitutional Emergency) (Article 356):
- President’s Rule can be imposed when the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution (Article 356).
- Additionally, if a state fails to comply with the directions given by the Centre (Article 365), President’s Rule can be imposed.
- Example: The dismissal of the elected government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 and the imposition of Governor’s Rule is a recent illustration.
Financial Emergency (Article 360):
- A Financial Emergency can be declared when there is a threat to the financial stability or credit of India.
- This provision has never been invoked in India’s history.
- Example (hypothetical): If there is an unprecedented financial crisis leading to the collapse of the banking system and the nation’s creditworthiness, the President could declare a Financial Emergency.
While these emergency provisions grant extensive powers to the central government, they should be exercised with utmost caution and restraint.
They are designed to be tools of last resort to address severe crises that threaten the integrity and stability of the nation.
The history of India has shown that the declaration of emergencies has significant consequences for democracy and individual rights, underscoring the need for their judicious use only in genuinely extraordinary situations.