Emergency Provisions of the Constitution

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An emergency is a situation demanding immediate action.The emergency provisions under Indian constitution can be traced back to the British rule in India, when by Act of parliament crown established its sovereignty over company’s territories in India in 1861 . The Governor General under the provisions exercised wide powers both legislative and executive. He was also given power to legislate for emergencies.The Emergency Provisions are mentioned from Article 352 to Article 360.

Article 352: Proclamation of Emergency – due to external intrusion or war the President of India can declare a state of emergency through a Proclamation. This Article suggests that such a Proclamation can be revoked or a varied Proclamation can also be issued. However, the decision of the Cabinet ministers to issue such a proclamation must be sent to the President in written form prior to his issuance of the same. According to the Article, all such Proclamations should be presented to both the Houses of the Parliament. The Proclamations, if not accepted by a resolution, will be counted as ineffective after one month. If the Proclamation is not accepted after the passing of a second resolution, then it will become ineffective after the expiry of 6 months of the second resolution. It is also mentioned in the Article that not less than two-thirds of the members of any of the Parliamentary Houses should be required to pass a resolution. There are certain rules specified in this Article regarding the President revoking or issuing a varied Proclamation during Emergency.

Article 353: Effect of Proclamation of Emergency – this Article states that the Proclamation of Emergency includes extending the executive power of the union to the states in the form of directions. The Parliament, as per this Article, can confer the power to make laws, upon the officers or authorities of the Union.

Article 354: Application of provisions relating to distribution of revenues while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation – provisions made under Articles 268 to 279 can be modified or exceptions can be made by the President of India by an Order while the Proclamation period of emergency is going on. Information about all such Orders must be conveyed to both the Houses of Parliament.

Article 355: Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance – this Article states the fact that the Union or Center is solely responsible for defending the various states from all types of violence and aggressions erupting from outside and disturbances occurring within the nation’s territory.

Article 356: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States – the President of India can take charge of a state if the reports submitted to him by the Governor suggest that the government of the state has become incapable of exercising the Constitutional powers. The President is also subjected to exercise the powers of the government of such state by Proclamation. The Proclamation issued under such circumstances become ineffective after 6 months from the date of issuance, if not revoked during this time period. All such Proclamations have to be presented to both the Houses of Indian Parliament and will expire after two months. The Legislative powers of such state shall also be exercised by the Parliament. In the Houses of Parliament there are certain rules and regulations regarding the expiry of the Proclamation and the time period normally depends upon the fact whether it has been revoked earlier or not.

Article 357: Exercise of legislative powers under Proclamation issued under article 356 – the powers of the Legislature shall be exercised by the Parliament during emergency. The Parliament has the right to delegate Legislative powers to the President of India or any such authority. The President of India, after the Proclamation of Article 356, can make laws and shall have access to the consolidated fund during the time period when the House of the People is not in operation.

Article 358: Suspension of provisions of article 19 during emergencies – any provision under Article 19 will not be effective during emergency and the states can make law and undertake executive action. However, only those laws and executive actions containing recital related to emergency during the Proclamation of Emergency are effective as per the Article.

Article 359: Suspension of the enforcement of the rights conferred by Part III during emergencies – the President of India can suspend all ongoing proceedings in any court of the nation during emergencies by an Order. The President can also call upon all pending court proceedings in case of emergencies. All such orders declaring the suspension of court proceedings have to be submitted to both the Houses of Parliament.

Article 360: Provisions as to financial emergency – a declaration shall be made by the President of India through a Proclamation regarding the financial crisis of the nation if such situation arises. Such a Proclamation can be revoked and has to be presented in both the Houses of the Parliament. The Proclamation thus issued will become null and void after two months if the same is not approved through a resolution passed by the Houses of Parliament. In case the Houses are not in session the Article suggests certain specific guidelines regarding the Proclamation. This Article also includes provisions relating to the salary and allowance reduction of those who are employed with Union and state departments. A provision relating to money bills and other financial bills passed by the state Legislature is mentioned in the Article. This provision states that all such bills have to be considered by the President during financial instability.

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