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Describe any three weaknesses and any three points of strength of India's democracy that came to light during the Emergency of 1975. - Political Science

Describe any three weaknesses and any three points of strength of India's democracy that came to light during the Emergency of 1975.

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Solution

Weaknesses which came to light during emergency related to democracy:-

1. Effects on civil liberties for citizens:- The government made extensive use of preventive detention. People were arrested on the apprehension that they may commit an offence. The government made large-scale arrests during the Emergency. Arrested persons could not challenge their arrest through habeas corpus petitions. Even the Supreme Court gave a judgement in favour of the government. Thus, civil liberties for citizens were curtailed.

2. Impact on relationship between the executive and judiciary:- The government made extensive use of preventive detention. Large-scale arrests were made. Arrested workers could not challenge their arrest through habeas corpus petitions. Although some High Courts gave judgements allowing courts to entertain a writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court over-ruled the High Courts and accepted the government's plea. This judgement was one of the most controversial judgements of the Supreme Court, but this shows that the relations between the executive and the judiciary (Supreme Court) were cordial. This also shows that the judiciary was a committed judiciary.

3. Functions of mass media:- The Emergency adversely affected the functioning of mass media as mentioned below:-

  1. After the midnight of 25 June 1975, electricity to all major newspaper offices was disconnected.
  2. Freedom of press was suspended. Press censorship was introduced.
  3. Newspapers such as The Indian Express and The Statesman protested censorship by leaving blank spaces where news items had been censored.
  4. Magazines such as the Seminar and the Main Stream chose to close down rather than submit to censorship.
  5. Many journalists were arrested for writing against the Emergency.
  6. Many underground newsletters were published to bypass censorship.

Strength of India's democracy which came to light during the Emergency of 1975:-

  1. As the normal democratic functioning resumed within a short span of time, one important lesson of Emergency is that it is extremely difficult to do away with democracy in India.
  2. Second, it brought out some ambiguities regarding the Emergency provision in the Constitution which have been rectified since. For example, the internal emergency can now be proclaimed only on the ground of 'armed rebellion'. Also, it is necessary that the advice to the President to proclaim Emergency must be given in writing by the Council of Ministers.
  3. During Emergency, the judiciary could not protect the civil liberties of the people; hence, everyone now has come to know about the value of civil liberties. The courts too have taken active part in the protection of civil liberties after the Emergency.
  4. The Emergency has also shown that there should be a balance between the functioning of a democratic government and political protests by parties and groups.
  5. It also proved that the police and bureaucracy are vulnerable to political pressures which should be avoided.
Concept: Emergency - Context, Constitutional and Extra-constitutional Dimensions, Resistance to Emergency
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