Emergency Provisions in Indian Constitution – UPSC

In this article, You will read Emergency Provisions In the Indian Constitution for UPSC (Indian Polity Notes).

The emergency provisions are contained in Part XVIII of the Constitution of India, from Article 352 to 360. These provisions enable the Central government to meet any abnormal situation effectively.

Emergency Provisions

A state of emergency in India refers to a period of governance that can be proclaimed by the President of India during certain crisis situations. Under the advice of the cabinet of ministers, the President can overrule many provisions of the Constitution, which guarantees Fundamental Rights to the citizens of India.

Part XVIII Articles 352 to 360 – contain Emergency Provisions.

The term Emergency may be defined as a difficult situation arising suddenly and demanding immediate action by public authorities under power specially granted to them by the Constitution or otherwise to meet exigencies (demands, emergencies).

Reasons for incorporating emergency provisions:

  • To meet any exceptional or threat full situation.
  • To safeguard the sovereignty, unity, integrity, and security of the country, the democratic political system, and the Constitution.
  • It has been incorporated to change the Indian political system from federal to unitary as per the situation and requirements of the country.

What happens during emergency?

  • During an Emergency, the Central government becomes all-powerful and the states go into total control of the Centre.
  • It converts the federal structure into a unitary one without a formal amendment of the Constitution.
  • This kind of transformation of the political system from federal during normal times to unitary during Emergency is a unique feature of the Indian Constitution.

The Constitution stipulates three types of emergencies-

  1. National Emergency
  2. Constitutional Emergency
  3. Financial Emergency
S. No.Article No.Emergency commonly called as
1.352National Emergency However, the Constitution employs the expression ‘proclamation of emergency’ to denote an emergency of this type.
2.356State Emergency / President’s Rule / Constitutional Emergency
3.360Financial Emergency

National Emergency

Art 352 – National Emergency

An emergency due to –

  1. War or
  2. external aggression or
  3. armed rebellion (internal disturbances)

Grounds of declaration:

  • Under Article 352, the president can declare a national emergency when the security of India or a part of it is threatened by war or external aggression, or armed rebellion.
  • The President can declare a national emergency even before the actual occurrence of war or armed rebellion or external aggression
  • When a national emergency is declared on the grounds of ‘war’ or ‘external aggression’, it is known as ‘External Emergency’. On the other hand, when it is declared on the grounds of ‘armed rebellion’, it is known as ‘Internal Emergency’.
    • This term ‘armed rebellion’ is inserted from the 44th amendment. Before this term, it was known as an internal disturbance.
    • Only in the year 1975, the National emergency was declared on the grounds of internal disturbances.

Parliamentary approval and duration

  • The proclamation of emergency must be approved by both the houses of parliament within one month from the date of its issue.
  • However, if the proclamation of emergency is issued at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution takes place during the period of one month without approving the proclamation, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of Lok Sabha after its reconstitution, provided the Rajya Sabha has in the meantime approved it.
  • If approved by both the houses, the Emergency continues for 6 months and can be extended to an indefinite period with the approval of the Parliament every six months.
  • Every resolution approving the proclamation of emergency or its continuance must be passed by either House of Parliament by a special majority.

Revocation of proclamation

  • A proclamation of Emergency may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation. Such a proclamation does not require parliamentary approval.
  • The emergency must be revoked if the Lok Sabha passes a resolution by a simple majority disapproving of its continuation.

Effects of national emergency

  • A proclamation of Emergency has drastic and wide-ranging effects on the political system. These consequences can be grouped into 3 categories:
    • Effects on the center-state relations: While a proclamation of Emergency is in force, the normal fabric of the Centre-State relations undergoes a basic change. this can be studied under three heads:
      • Executive: Centre becomes entitled to give executive directions to a state on ‘any’ matter
      • Legislative: The parliament becomes empowered to make laws on any subject mentioned in the state list, the president can issue ordinances on State subjects also, if the parliament is not in session. The laws made on state subjects by the parliament become inoperative six months after the emergency has ceased to be in operation.
      • Financial: the president can modify the constitutional distribution of revenues between the centre and the states.
    • Effect on the life of the Lok Sabha and State Assembly:
      • While a proclamation of National Emergency is in operation, the life of the Lok Sabha may be extended beyond the normal term for one year at a time. However, this extension cannot continue beyond a period of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.
      • Similarly, the Parliament may extend the normal tenure of a state Legislative Assembly by one year each time during a national emergency, subject to a maximum period of six months after the emergency has ceased to operate.
    • Effect on fundamental rights: Articles 358 and 359 describes the effect of a National Emergency on Fundamental Rights. These two provisions are explained below:
      • Suspension of Fundamental rights under Article 19: According to Article 358, when a proclamation of National Emergency is made, the six fundamental rights under article 19 are automatically suspended. Article 19 is automatically revived after the expiry of the emergency.
        • The 44th Amendment Act laid out that Article 19 can only be suspended when the National Emergency is laid on the grounds of war or external aggression and not in the case of armed rebellion.
      • Suspension of other Fundamental Rights: Under Article 359, the President is authorized to suspend, by order, the right to move any court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights during a National Emergency. Thus, remedial measures are suspended and not the Fundamental Rights.
        • The suspension of enforcement relates to only those Fundamental Rights that are specified in the Presidential Order.
        • The suspension could be for the period during the operation of an emergency or for a shorter period.
        • The Order should be laid before each House of Parliament for approval.
        • The 44 Amendment Act mandates that the President cannot suspend the right to move the court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Article 20 and 21.

Declarations made so far: 

This type of emergency has been proclaimed three times so far- in 1962, 1971 and 1975

  • The first proclamation of National Emergency was issued in October 1962 on account of Chinese aggression in the NEFA and was in force till January 1968.
  • The second proclamation of National Emergency was made in December 1971 in the wake of the attack by Pakistan.
  • Even when the emergency was in operation, the third proclamation of National Emergency was made in June 1975. Both the second and the third proclamations were revoked in March 1977

President’s Rule

  • Article 355 imposes a duty on the centre to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
  • It is this duty in the performance of which the centre takes over the government of a state under Article 356 in case of failure of constitutional machinery in a state.
  • This is popularly known as ‘President’s Rule’.
  • Grounds of imposition: the president’s ruler can be proclaimed under Article 356 on two grounds:
    1. Article 356 empowers the President to issue a proclamation if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
    2. Article 365 says that whenever a state fails to comply with or to give effect to any direction from the centre, it will be lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
  • Parliamentary approval and duration: A proclamation imposing the president’s rule must be approved by both the houses of parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
    • However, if the proclamation of President’s rule is issued at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place during the period of two months without approving the proclamation, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after its reconstitution, provided that the Rajya Sabha approves it in the meantime
  • Consequences of the President’s rule: The President acquires the following extraordinary powers when the President’s rule is imposed in a state:
    • He can take up the functions of the state government and powers vested in the governor or any other executive authority in the state.
    • He can declare that the powers of the state legislature are to be exercised by the parliament.
    • He can take all other necessary steps including the suspension of the constitutional provisions relating to anybody or authority in the state.
  • Scope of judicial review: The 38th Amendment act of 1975 made the satisfaction of the President in invoking Article 356 final and conclusive which would not be challenged in any court on any ground.
    • But, this provision was subsequently deleted by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 implying that the satisfaction of the President is not beyond judicial review.
What happens when the state government is suspended or dissolved?
  1. the Parliament can delegate the power to make laws for the state to the President or to any other authority specified by him in this regard,
  2. the Parliament or in case of delegation, the President or any other specified authority can make laws conferring powers and imposing duties on the Centre or its officers and authorities,
  3. the President can authorize, when the Lok Sabha is not in session, expenditure from the state consolidated fund pending its sanction by the Parliament, and
  4. the President can promulgate, when the Parliament is not in session, ordinances for the governance of the state.
Revocation of President’s Rule

President’s Rule can be revoked anytime after such a proclamation has been made by a subsequent proclamation by the President. A proclamation of revocation does not require approval by the Parliament.

This occurs when the leader of a political party produces letters indicating majority support for him in the assembly and stakes his claim to form the state government.


Do you know?

  • The laws that are made by the Parliament or issued by the President are valid even after the termination of the President’s rule.
  • The powers of the High Court remain during the President’s rule.
  • The President’s rule has no effect on the Fundamental Rights of the citizens.
  • The President’s rule was first imposed in Punjab in the year 1951.
  • The Sakaria Commission (1988) on Centre-State relations submitted recommendations regarding the imposition of the President’s rule.

Q. Which of the following are not necessarily the consequences of the proclamation of the President’s rule in a State?

1. Dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly
2. Removal of the Council of Ministers in the State
3. Dissolution of the local bodies

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3


Financial Emergency

  • Grounds of declaration: Article 360 empowers the president to proclaim a Financial Emergency if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen due to which the financial stability or credit of India or any part of its territory is threatened.
  • Parliamentary approval and duration: A proclamation declaring financial emergency must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
    • However, if the proclamation of Financial Emergency is issued at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place during the period of two months without approving the proclamation, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after its reconstitution, provided the Rajya Sabha has in the meantime approved it.
      • Once approved by both the houses of Parliament, the Financial Emergency continues indefinitely till it is revoked.

The Financial Emergency is revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation.

Effects of Financial Emergency

  • Extension of the executive authority of the Union over the financial matters of the States.
  • Reduction of salaries and allowances of all or any class of persons serving in the State.
  • Reservation of all money bills or other financial bills for the consideration of the President after they are passed by the legislature of the State.
  • Direction from the President for the reduction of salaries and allowances of all or any class of persons serving the Union; and the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

Criticism of the Emergency Provision

  • Some members of the Constituent Assembly criticized the incorporation of emergency provisions in the constitution on the following grounds:
    • The federal character of the constitution will be destroyed and the union will become all-powerful
    • The powers of the State- both the Union and the Units- will entirely be concentrated in the hands of the union executive.
    • The president will become a dictator
    • The financial autonomy of the state will be nullified
    • Fundamental rights will become meaningless and, as a result, the democratic foundation of the constitution will be destroyed.’
  • While defending the emergency provisions in the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Ambedkar accepted the possibility of their misuse. He observed, ‘I do not altogether deny that there is a possibility of the Articles being abused or employed for political purposes.’

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