Victims of 1975 Emergency move Supreme Court seeking "freedom fighter" status
Declaration of National Emergency (The Hindu, June 26, 1975) Pic Courtesy: Indpaedia

Victims of 1975 Emergency move Supreme Court seeking "freedom fighter" status

The All India Loktantra Senani Joint Action Committee has sought to intervene in plea recently moved to declare the Emergency proclaimed by the Indira Gandhi government in 1975 as unconstitutional.

An organisation of persons arrested during the Emergency in the 1970s has moved the Supreme Court seeking that they be declared freedom fighters.

The All India Loktantra Senani Joint Action Committee has sought to intervene in plea recently moved before the top court to declare the Emergency proclaimed by the Indira Gandhi government in 1975 as unconstitutional.

The intervention application filed through advocate Bharti Tyagi states that the organization is an umbrella unit which covers several organizations representing the victims of the Emergency all across India.

It has, further, stated that ten States have recognised the applicants and extended monthly pension, free healthcare, and travelling passes to them.

These states include Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The Senani, however, has added that these welfare schemes are not consistent and that they change depending on the party in power.

The application gives instances to show how state governments stopped providing monetary assistance to the group members merely due to the change of the ruling party in the state. It states,

“These facilities were not provided in a consistent manner and often taken away altogether due to the politics in the state, as per the convenience of the party in power."

It goes on to state that the victims of the Emergency were "brutally tortured" and that they were even made to lay on "ice bricks" for several hours.

The applicant organization further states that they had approached the Kerala High Court for compensation and pension on account of the incarceration suffered during the Emergency. However, that plea was disposed of, with the Court stating that the issue was one the Central government had to take a call on.

Echoing the contentions raised by nonagenarian petitioner Vera Sarin, the organisation said its members have been deprived of their legal right to life and liberty by State authorities.

Last month, a Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy had issued notice to the Central government in Sarin's plea, stating that it will hear the petitioner on the limited aspect of whether the validity of such proclamation can be probed by the Court after passage of "such a long time."

Declaration of National Emergency (The Hindu, June 26, 1975) Pic Courtesy: Indpaedia
Plea in Supreme Court by nonagenarian to declare 1975 national emergency "unconstitutional"; Harish Salve to appear

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner, had argued that the Court is empowered to examine the validity of the proclamation of Emergency. He said,

"War crimes issues are still heard. Post World War, people are raising issues of the Holocaust now. It (Emergency) was a fraud on the Constitution. We must have this decided by this Court. I feel very strongly for this. This is not a matter for political debate. Didn't we see what happened to prisoners during Emergency."

The plea filed by 94-year-old Vera Sarin seeks a declaration that the Presidential notification proclaiming the Emergency in 1975 was unconstitutional. Sarin has also prayed for damages to the tune of Rs 25 crore.

Sarin has claimed that she along with her husband were compelled to leave the country for fear of being thrown into jail.

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