Human Rights During Emergencies in India:

  • The Emergency in India refers to a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977 when then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency declared across the country.
  • During this time, elections were canceled, civil liberties were suspended, and the press was censored.
  • The Emergency was officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution due to “internal disturbance” and is one of the most controversial periods of Indian history since its independence.
  • Fundamental rights, including those of the press, were severely affected, with the government imposing strict censorship on news reporting.

Freedom of Press During Emergencies in India:

  • The press faced significant restrictions during the Emergency, with the government enacting laws that curtailed media freedom.
  • Newspapers and journalists were subject to strict censorship, and several human rights violations were reported, including a mass campaign for vasectomy spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi.
  • The Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Act, 1976, was one of the legislations passed to suppress the freedom of the press, which was later repealed.
  • The period is often referred to as the “darkest period” of independent India, as all civil rights were suspended, and the freedom of speech and expression was muzzled.