The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a plea by a 94-yr-old woman to declare the 1975 Emergency proclamation as unconstitutional and sought a response from the Centre.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing petitioner Veena Sarin, submitted before a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that his client wants a declaration that the Emergency was unconstitutional.
The bench observed that Emergency was an abuse and something happened, which should not have had happened.
Salve said people were under detention for months. “If history is not corrected, then it repeats itself”, he added.
Salve submitted that today even war-crime issues are considered and 90 year olds are hauled up for crimes. “In nascent stage of our democracy, rights were suspended for 19 months,” said Salve.
Salve said this is a matter of constitutional debate. He added that principles must be laid down so that no matter how high you are, you will be held accountable.
Justice Kaul replied what will this take us to?
After a detailed hearing into the matter, the top court agreed to examine whether a declaration that Emergency of 1975 was unconstitutional would be feasible or desirable after a passage of 45 years.
The plea said that the petitioner is aggrieved by the trauma and harassment faced by herself and her family including her deceased husband during the period beginning June 1975 upon the declaration of emergency.
Citing the order passed by the then President of India under Article 358 and 359 of the Constitution, the plea argued that the freedoms guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution and the rights of citizens to move any court for enforcement of their fundamental rights remained suspended till the withdrawal of Emergency.
The petitioner submitted that her husband and she were compelled to leave the country for fear of being thrown into jail on the whims and wishes of the government authority.
The petitioner, who now lives with her daughter in Dehradun, alleged her husband’s gold and art business in Karol Bagh and Connaught Place was ceased by then authorities and the family was threatened and their properties and valuables were forcefully taken away.
“Declare that the proclamation of emergency vide notification dated June 25, 1975, was wholly unconstitutional and actions pursuant to the same are illegal and unjustifiable. The petitioner may kindly be compensated to the tune of Rs 25 crores to be recovered from the concerned authorities as having participated in the unconstitutional acts,” said the plea.
Sarin added that she single-handedly faced all proceedings initiated against her husband during the Emergency period.