Polity Notes


The Political and Economic situation of a Country may not remain stable at all times. To tackle any unforeseen situation, Constitution of a Country usually have Emergency Provisions. In our Constitution too we do have emergency provisions in part XVIII. We have borrowed Emergency Provisions in our Constitution from the Constitution of Germany.

Only our President in empowered to proclaim emergency or to revoke emergency. President can declare three types of emergencies in India.


1) National Emergency Article 352

a) National Emergency (External)

b) National Emergency (Internal)

2) State Emergency (or President rule or Governor rule) Article 356

3) Financial Emergency Article 360

1) National Emergency (Article 352)

National Emergency is of two types—

(i) National Emergency (Internal) and

(ii) National Emergency (External).

Earlier our President could declare National Emergency on ground of War or External aggression or internal disturbance. First time National Emergency External was proclaimed on 26th October, 1962 due to War with China and revoked on 10th January, 1968. Second time National Emergency Internal was proclaimed on 3rd December, 1971 due to War with Pakistan and on 25th June, 1975. Third time National Emergency (Internal) was proclaimed on 25th June 1975 on ground of internal disturbances. Both Internal as well as External National Emergencies were revoked on 21st March, 1977. After this National Emergency– Internal or External was never proclaimed in India by the President.

Consequences of National Emergency:

1. Our Constitution gets converted from Federal to Unitary i.e. Parliament can make law on any subject of State List too.

2. Centre can give directives to States as to the manner in which they are to exercise their executive powers.

3. President may by order modify any provision relating to the distribution of revenue between Centre and States.

4. President can also levy (impose) any tax which ordinary falls in state list.

5. The life of Lok Sabha may be extended by one year each time.

6. Parliament can extend the life of State Legislative Assembly by one year each time.

7. Fundamental Right to Speech and Expression (Article 19) get suspended automatically and other Fundamental Rights can also be suspended.

By 44th CAA 1978, following amendments mere made in the Emergency Provisions to prevents their misuse.

1. President can proclaim National Emergency only on written advice of Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister.

2. Any proclamation of National Emergency by President can be Judicially challenged (By 42nd CAA 1976, it was made that proclamation of National Emergency by President can not be judicially challenged).

3. Now President can proclaimed National Emergency in whole of India, in some parts of India, in some States, in one state or in some parts of a State.

4. Proclamation of National Emergency must be approved by both houses of parliament by special majority i.e. 2/3rd majority by both houses of Parliament within one month and can be extended for 6 months each time for any number of times.

5. The ground for proclamation of National Emergency (Internal) was changed from Internal Disturbance to Armed Rebellion. Now, President can declare National Emergency on ground of War or External aggression or Armed Rebellion.

6. President is bound to revoke National Emergency if Lok Sabha passes a resolution disapproving the same by its simple majority.

7. If 1/10th members of Lok Sabha ask the President to call a special session of Lok Sabha to disapprove National Emergency then President is bound to call a special session of Lok Sabha within 14 days.

8. The Fundamental Rights under Article 20 & 21 (Right to life and freedom) were made absolute rights and these Fundamental Rights under Article 20 & 21 can never be suspended even during National Emergency.

(2) State Emergency (Article 356)

State Emergency is also known as President rule in a State or Governor rule. President can proclaim state emergency under (Article 356) due to break down of Constitutional machinery in the state i.e. if it is not possible to form a state government as per Constitutional Provisions. The State Council of Ministers is dismissed and State Legislative Assembly may be either kept under suspension or dissolved. State Governor becomes real head of State Government and is assisted by his advisers in running the state government. Proclamation under (Article 356) must be approved by both houses of Parliament within two months. State Emergency can be imposed for a maximum period of 6 months and can be extended for another 6 months and not beyond that. First time State Emergency was imposed in Punjab in 1951. By 44th CAA 1978 now State Emergency can be imposed upto 3 years under these two conditions:

(i) There is proclamation of National Emergency under (Article 352) in India or in the state concerned or in part of the state concerned.

(ii) Election commission certifies difficulty in holding free and fair election for the State Legislative Assembly.

Nine Judges Bench of Supreme Court in S R Bommai’s Case gave decision that validity of proclamation under Article 356 can be judicially challenged.

It is infortunate that this provision is generally misused by Union Government. Many times Union Government use this provision as a weapon to destabilise the State Governments ruled by opposition parties.

(3) Financial Emergency (Article 356)

President can proclaimed Financial Emergency if financial stability or credit of India is in danger. Financial Emergency must be approved by both houses of Parliament within 2 months.

Consequences of Financial Emergency:

(a) Centre can give directives to any state to observe measures such as reduction of salaries and allowances of all or any class of persons serving the state.

(b) Centre may require all money or financial bills reserved for the President’s consideration after they are passed by State Legislature.

(c) President may issue directives for reducing the salary and allowances of persons serving the Union including the Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.

(d) Centre can imposed new taxes and can enhance the rate of existing taxes.

Financial Emergency has never been proclaimed in India.