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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

SC to hear plea of 94-yr-old woman seeking to declare 1975 emergency as unconstitutional

The petitioner, Veera Sarin, has claimed in her plea that she and her husband were "victims of the atrocities inflicted by the then government authorities and others" during the period of emergency.

By: PTI | New Delhi | December 7, 2020 9:00:35 pm
History Headline: 1971 and now, a tale of slogansPrime Minister Indira Gandhi addressing the nation from the Doordarshan studio during Emergency. (Express archive photo August, 1975)

The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear next week a plea filed by a 94-year-old woman seeking to declare as “wholly unconstitutional” the proclamation of emergency in 1975.

The plea, which has also sought compensation of Rs 25 crores from the authorities who had actively participated in the “unconstitutional acts”, came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul. The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, posted the matter for hearing on December 14.

The petitioner, Veera Sarin, has claimed in her plea that she and her husband were “victims of the atrocities inflicted by the then government authorities and others” during the period of emergency which was proclaimed minutes before the midnight of June 25, 1975. The proclamation was revoked in March 1977.

“The petitioner, in a genuine desire to bring about an end to the undemocratic nightmare, infamously known as ‘the emergency’ seeks a peaceful closure, that can be brought only by an acknowledgment and declaration by the highest court of justice of the country in which citizens repose the highest level of confidence and faith, that the said incident was unconstitutional,” the plea said.

Sarin said that she and her husband, who had a flourishing business of Gold Arts in Delhi at that time, were compelled to leave the country during emergency for fear of being thrown into jail for no justifiable reason, on the “whims and wishes of government authority in a state where civil rights and liberties stood curbed.”

The plea said later the petitioner’s husband died and she had to face the legal proceedings initiated against him during the emergency.

“The ordeals of the emergency and destruction caused during the said period are being suffered till date by the petitioner. The petitioner and her family were made to run from pillar to post for the past 35 years to vindicate their rights and restore their properties,” the plea said.

The petition said that during that time, the petitioner was “shunned by her relatives and friends” because of the illegal proceedings initiated against her husband and now she is seeking “closure to the trauma of her lifetime, which still resonates in her mind”.

It alleged that even now, the movable properties including jewellery, artefacts, paintings, sculptures and other valuables have not been reinstituted to her family and she is entitled to be compensated for the acts done by the concerned authorities.

The plea referred to a December 2014 order passed by the Delhi High Court which had held that proceedings initiated under one of the legislations against the petitioner’s husband were bereft of any jurisdiction.

It said in July this year, the high court passed an order by which she was partially compensated for “illegal possession of her immovable properties” by the government in terms of rent.

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