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1975 Emergency ‘wholly unconstitutional’? SC agrees to examine plea

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New Delhi, Dec 14: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a petition, which had sought the declaration of the proclamation of Emergency in 1975 as "wholly unconstitutional".

While agreeing to hear the plea, a bench headed by Justice S K Kaul said the apex court would also examine whether it is "feasible or desirable" for it to examine the validity of proclamation of Emergency after a lapse of 45 years.

1975 Emergency ‘wholly unconstitutional’? SC agrees to examine plea

"We are having difficulty. Emergency is something which should not have happened," the top court observed while hearing the plea.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for petitioner Veera Sarin, said that Emergency was a "fraud" and the "greatest assault" on the Constitution as rights were suspended for months.

Emergency was proclaimed minutes before midnight of June 25, 1975, by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The proclamation was revoked in March 1977.

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 midnight of June 25, 1975.

"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, artifacts, 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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