The provision (Article 352) in the Constitution that empowered the Union government to declare Emergency must be repealed, former Judge, Madras High Court, K Chandru urged here on Tuesday at a meeting.
The meeting was held by Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam which observed the 38th anniversary of the imposition of emergency as Black Day. Justice Chandru said that the government had not made details related to the imposition of Emergency available till now although it was directed to disclose it under an RTI petition filed by former IAS official Devasahayam. “It remains a mystery. Even we do not know if the decision to impose emergency had Cabinet approval,” he said.
Referring to certain anecdotes about Emergency like “the trains ran on time,” he said the muzzled press was used by the centre to offset the negative image caused by Emergency.
Recalling that over one lakh people were sent to jail during the Emergency, he said preventive detention laws continued to be present in one form or the other.
“It was the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the infamous Emergency era, and later the National Security Act, then TADA and POTA, and presently the UAPA.”
Although POTA was repealed after stiff opposition, it later found entry through the backdoor in the form of an amended UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act), he said.
“We raise our voice only if we are put in a distressed situation. Otherwise, we tend to forget everything. It is important to institutionalise the protection of human rights.” said he.
Later, speaking to Express, Chandru, referring to the recommendations of Rajamannar and Sarkaria Commissions said repealing provisions related to Emergency in the Constitution was important to buttress the autonomy of States.
Earlier, senior advocate S Duraisamy of the PDK, besides others, recalled the atrocities committed during the Emergency period in Tamil Nadu.