Emergency taught me some compromises are not possible: Arun Jaitley

Jaitley said he was deprived of his right to continue his education in Delhi.

By: Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: June 25, 2014 9:16 pm
Jaitley said HC in the country 'showed some courage' in giving relief to the detainees, but the extremely pliable SC overturned each and every favourable order of the HC. (Source: PTI) Jaitley said HC in the country ‘showed some courage’ in giving relief to the detainees, but the extremely pliable SC overturned each and every favourable order of the HC. (Source: PTI)

Terming the Emergency as the worst post-independence chapter of Indian democracy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said it gave him the best political education of his life as it taught him that some compromises are “just not possible”.

The senior BJP leader, who was President of Delhi University Students Union when the Emergency was imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975 and was detained for 19 months, also said that it displayed the weakness of the Indian constitutional order where press could be silenced and judiciary “made pliable”.

“For many like me who underwent Emergency experience in Delhi and successfully fought against it, this became a turning point in our lives. The Emergency was perhaps the best political education of my life. It taught me that some compromises were just not possible,” he said, in an article on the 39th anniversary of the 1975-77 Emergency which falls tomorrow.

Jaitley, who is also the Defence Minister, said June 26 marks the 39th anniversary of the Emergency whose oppressive phase lasted 19 months (excluding two months of election) and said “this monstrosity” is perhaps the “worst” post Independence chapter of the Indian democracy.

Recalling some of his personal memories on the Emergency, he said he received a midnight knock at his residence past 2 AM when he escaped from the backdoor to a friend’s house in the neighbourhood. Jaitley said with no newspapers and the entire opposition political leadership including Jai Prakash Narain, Morarji Desai, Choudhury Charan Singh, Atal Behari Vajpayee, L K Advani arrested, he along with his co-ABVP workers organised a protest at Delhi University campus next morning.

“This was the only protest against the Emergency which took place that day in the whole country…I requested my colleagues to quietly disappear since I had been surrounded by the police. I courted arrest. I was also taken to the Timarpur Police Station where I was handed over a detention order under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA),” he said.

Jaitley said he was taken to Tihar jail and lodged there for eight days before being transferred to Ambala Jail in Haryana where he was kept for about three months. “I had been detained for 19 months in prison under preventive detention. Needless to say I was deprived of my right to continue my education in Delhi,” he said.

Jaitley said Indira Gandhi began to rethink on Emergency after pressure of international opinion but “miscalculated” and decided to hold elections in which people vent out their anger against Emergency and Congress was trounced with both Gandhi and her son Sanjay defeated from Rae Bareli and Amethi.

Critical of the Judiciary at the time, he said, “The Supreme Court in perhaps the worst amongst post independence judgments, in the habeas corpus case, ruled that even though political detainees have been illegally detained, they have no right to approach the court and seek the relief.” Jaitley said High Courts in the country “showed some courage” in giving relief to the detainees, but the “extremely pliable Supreme Court overturned each and every favourable order of the High Court.”

He said the Representation of People Act was amended retrospectively to “legitimise and validate the invalid election” of Indira Gandhi.
“The Constitution was amended to make the election of Prime Minister as non-justiciable. The proclamation of emergency was made non-justiciable,” he said, adding that opposition party governments in states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu were dismissed and President’s rule imposed.

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  1. Om Prakash Gupta
    Jun 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm
    I remember that day in 1975 as one of the worst chapter in my life- a life not of celebrity like Mr.Jaitly but a very ordinary Indian.That day my youngest brother who was about 20 years old was on way to attend a marriage of his friend in MP, fell ill near Bhind (as reported to us by some people of the marriage party later),was admitted to the govt hospital Bhind where he became critical for want of proper treatment(as told by some patients of Bhind Govt Hospital) and as the emergency was imposed all communication lines across the country were disrupted.We the immediate family member were not informed of his illness ,no proper treatment was given to him. The marriage party after depositing my sick brother in the hospital left for the destination and in the absence of kith and kins hospital never cared to provide him basic treatment to survive nor the Hospital inform us about his critical condition and subsequent death .We got the information after the marriage party returned that he was in Bhind hospital.We rushed there to find that he was no more and his body was lying in morgue after postmortem which was retrieved from hospital and brought to Kanpur for cremation.Till this day we are not aware of the real cause of his death whether he died of some foul play or for some genuine sickness.Whenever we approached the concerned authorities we faced rude response with threatening that we would be arrested under Emergency.Thus Emergency had robbed my family of the basic right to know the cause of the untimely death of my young brother. I saw my widowed mother growing grey overnight and this scar of the 25th June 1975 the entire family has never been able to forget.I sincerely hope this post is not deleted by Indian Express and allowed to remain.