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Indira Gandhi used emergency to subvert India’s judiciary and Parliament; claims Madhav Bhandari

X : @Madhavbhandari_


49 years ago, on June 25th, Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency. 49 years later, the emergency still lives through her deselection of the constitution, when she changed more than 60 articles. – A long thread on the TRUTH of emergency that continues to haunt us today.

Yesterday, Rahul Gandhi mocked the Hon. PM Shri Narendra Modi during Modiji’s oath ceremony by parading the Constitution. While the act itself was immature, the more ironic fact is, that he was showing the very constitution that his family and his party have brazenly abused over the years, and never more so during the Emergency.

During the Emergency, Indira Gandhi wielded the machinery of state to repress and crush her political opponents and to curb dissent. In those two years of terror, thousands were killed, and many more families were destroyed. Numerous institutions were dismantled, never to recover again. She used Emergency to subvert India’s judiciary and Parliament and practically mutilated our sacred constitution to achieve this. This assault on the Constitution may be the most destructive legacy of the Emergency. It lives on even today. Every citizen of this country needs to know this truth of Congress, which is today shading crocodile tears in the name of the same constitution.

Indira Gandhi and the Congress began their assault on the Constitution with the declaration of the Emergency itself. The way the Emergency was declared in the name of the President was unconstitutional. Until June 25, 1975, there was no provision in our Constitution for declaring an internal Emergency like this. Thus, the declared Emergency was entirely unconstitutional. Indira Gandhi introduced the 38th Amendment on July 22, 1975, twenty-eight days after the Emergency was declared to give a semblance of constitutional legitimacy to her repressive actions. This amendment was applied retrospectively. It was completely unconstitutional, illegal, and unethical. This amendment changed Articles 123, 213, 239B, 352, 356, 359, and 360 of the Constitution. It empowered the President to declare an Emergency for internal reasons through a mere notification, consolidating absolute power. According to this amendment, such a presidential proclamation could not be questioned or challenged in any court of law, debated, or reviewed. This amendment effectively made the President’s declaration of Emergency non-debatable and non-justiciable.

2. The 38th Amendment – Continued This amendment stripped the judiciary of many of its powers. It removed all actions and decisions of the central government from judicial review, giving the central government complete protection from the judiciary. The amendment granted the President (essentially the central government) the authority to suspend or take away the fundamental rights and freedoms that the Constitution guarantees every citizen. Moreover, it also gave the President the power to “guide” the various state governments, effectively stripping them of their limited autonomy. The 38th Amendment marked the beginning of a series of repressive amendments designed to consolidate autocratic power, with the 42nd Amendment being the most extreme of them all.

3. The 39th Amendment – August 10, 1975 This amendment altered Articles 71 and 329 of the Constitution and introduced a new Article 329A. Additionally, changes were made to the Ninth Schedule to protect specific government laws from judicial review. The primary purpose of this amendment was to nullify the Allahabad High Court’s ruling that had declared Indira Gandhi’s election invalid. It went further by removing the Prime Minister’s position from judicial scrutiny. The amendment ensured that even if there were electoral malpractices, no legal action could be taken against the President, Vice President, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, or Prime Minister.

4. The 40th Amendment – May 27, 1976 The 40th Amendment further curtailed the powers of state governments. It granted Parliament the authority to legislate directly for the development of ‘special economic zones,’ effectively sidelining state governments. All minerals were declared national property, with decision-making power vested solely in the central government. Additionally, land acquisition and related laws were added to the Ninth Schedule, reducing the powers of both state governments and the judiciary. The mining industry, a critical driver of industrial growth, has never recovered from this damage. Its impact slowed our economic growth by years if not decades.

5. The 41st Amendment – September 7, 1976 This amendment modified Article 316 of the Constitution to provide immunity to the President, Prime Minister, and Governors. It ensured that even after they have left office, no criminal proceedings could be initiated against them for actions taken while they were in office. This amendment effectively placed them above the law, granting them complete protection from any form of accountability.

6. The 42nd Amendment – September 1, 1976, to January 3, February 1, April 1, 1977 In the history of the Indian Constitution, the 42nd Amendment is known as the “Mini Constitution,” which altered 47 articles and introduced 13 new ones in one fell swoop. To “study the question of amendment of the Constitution in the light of experience,” Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed a committee in July 1976, chaired by then Foreign Minister Swaran Singh. Based on the committee’s report, the amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 1, 1976. This bill proposed sweeping changes, altering 47 articles of the Constitution from Article 31 to 366. The changes included modifications to Articles 31, 31C, 39, 55, 74, 77, 81, 82, 83, 100, 102, 103, 105, 118, 145, 150, 166, 170, 172, 189, 191, 192, 194, 208, 217, 225, 226, 227, 228, 311, 312, 330, 352, 353, 356, 357, 358, 359, 366, 368, and 371F. Additionally, it introduced 13 new articles4A, 14A, 31D, 32A, 39A, 43A, 48A, 131A, 139A, 144A, 226A, 228A, and 257A. It also provided alternative articles for four existing ones and redefined the relationship between the central and state governments by modifying the Seventh Schedule.

7. The 42nd Amendment – Continued The amendment’s provisions were designed to significantly curtail the powers of state governments, ensuring that the central government would hold absolute authority. This restructuring aimed to consolidate power in the hands of the central government, effectively reducing the autonomy of the states to a negligible level. The original Constitutional Assembly worked tirelessly for nearly three years to create our Constitution. The committee had 389 members. The drafting subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, worked for 114 days. Now look at Mrs Gandhi’s sheer arrogance and brazenness. To decide on the necessary amendments based on “experience” – 1. She appointed a one-member committee. 2. This committee produced its report in just 40 odd days. Based on this report, Indira Gandhi and the Congress orchestrated these sweeping changes.

These 5 amendments fundamentally altered the very essence of the Indian Constitution. The 38th Amendment had already begun stripping away citizens’ fundamental rights. However, it didn’t stop there. The 42nd Amendment went further, granting the government the power to take away even the right to life. The freedom of expression, thought, and the right to protest were all snatched away. Press freedom was obliterated; every line published had to be approved by government censors. The amendment clearly dictated that the judiciary would function under government directives. This bizarre move to amend the Preamble of the Constitution was unprecedented and had never been attempted anywhere in the world. While these extensive amendments were being enacted, the opposition benches in Parliament were empty because all opposition leaders were languishing in jail. It was an attempt to steer India towards totalitarianism, using the methods of Stalin and Mao as their blueprint.

The empty parliament brings me to another point. Congress and the Left tout the words “Secularism” and “Socialism” as the beacons of the Indian democracy. The truth is these words were added to the Constitution when there was no parliament or democracy. The truth is Congress and the Left ecosystem have abused our constitution and democracy in their hunger for power.

Along with talismanic Jayaprakash Narayan, RSS was also at the forefront of the battle against this tyranny. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Jan Sangh, various opposition parties, and student organisations came together to oppose the Emergy (Emergency). Meanwhile, the Communists sided with Indira Gandhi. Even Shiv Sena supported the Emergency in Maharashtra. The same Shiv Sena that wanted to save the constitution during a routine and fair Lok Sabha election.

The cruel irony of this brutal history is that the very individuals and the Congress party, whose predecessors once imposed this totalitarian regime, tore apart the Constitution and murdered the democracy, are now crying wolf in the name of the Constitution to mislead the public.

Almost 50 years later, Congress can easily mislead today’s generation since they have never truly experienced autocracy. People like us, thousands of us, were forced to live in oblivion so that we could resist the dictatorship of the Congress. And despite the combined resistance, it was not possible to prevent the loss of life, livelihoods and constitution.

That is why seeing the “Save the Constitution” campaign by the descendants of Emergency is deeply revolting. The agenda of this sinister ecosystem remains unchanged. Given the chance, they wouldn’t hesitate to revert to Indira Gandhi’s authoritarianism. It was the leftist coterie around her that pushed Indira Gandhi towards brutal totalitarianism. Today, Congress stands at the same juncture with the same stance and is surrounded by the same delusional leftist coterie. As we enter into the 50th year since the Emergency, it is important that we stop, look back and recognise the danger that still looms over our nation.

This thread is very long, but it is the truth. The unadulterated truth. And we must never forget it. – Madhav Bhandari.

Madhav Bhandari
Madhav Bhandari
Mr Madhav Bhandari is Maharashstra's state Vice President of Bharatiya Janata Party. He is also author of several books.


  1. Its like you read my mind You appear to know a lot about this like you wrote the book in it or something I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit but instead of that this is fantastic blog An excellent read I will certainly be back


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