Politics of People’s Rights: India under National Emergency (1975-77)


Violet Hazarika
Dibrugarh University, Assam, India.


The relationship between the State and people’s rights are not plain and symmetrical as apparently, it seems to be. It is sometimes critical and decisive in making and unmaking a political discourse. In contemporary times, democracy is appreciated and valued as one of the most celebrated and core political ideas. Although the values of democracy are applauded at different quarters, it has been observed that the very institution i.e. the State, which is mandated to protect and preserve the principles of democracy, violates it. During the journey since independence the Nation witnessed a very asymmetrical political development. The Constitution of India, which guarantees a democratic polity and equal rights to its people and is considered as the safeguard for the rights of the people also, furthermore has some provisions that can give immense power to the State machinery. In this context, reference could be made to the Emergency Provisions of the Indian Constitution which empowers the State machinery with massive power that sometimes creates a threat to the enjoyment of rights or leads to the infringement of the rights of the people as well. In this context, the proclamation of emergency in India in 1975 is marked as one of the most crucial experiences that India had since its independence. This paper attempts to scrutinize the nature of the Indian State in dealing with people’s rights during the operation of the entire emergency period (1975-77).