Recounting his experiences during the Emergency when he was jailed, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday that another Emergency could not be clamped in present conditions.
His comments come days after senior BJP leader LK Advani said that he was not confident that another Emergency would not happen again.
Releasing a book ‘Emergency: A Personal History’ by senior journalist Coomi Kapoor 40 years after Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency, Jaitley said the situation could not be recreated today because of two reasons: the Janata government’s amendments to the Constitution after it replaced the Indira regime, and the fact that today’s technology would defy censorship.
“The Janata government amended the Constitution. Article 21 is non-suspendable even in an Emergency now. You can’t be detained without cause,” Jaitley said. He added that because of technology, media censorship was no longer possible. “Technology will defy censorship,” he said.
The FM specifically referred to digital media and satellite technology as new forms that were difficult to censor. The Emergency, which lasted from 1975 to 1977, was marked by arrests of Opposition leaders and press censorship.
Jaitley recalled some events, saying that a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had upheld the suspension of Article 21 that guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty. The sole dissenter on the bench, Justice Hans Raj Khanna, Jaitley recalled, had asked the then attorney general whether even the right to life could be suspended. The view of the A-G was that it could, Jaitley said.
Taking a dig at the Congress, Jaitley said that one legacy of the Emergency was to institute dynastic democracy in India. “The evolution of India from a normal to a dynastic democracy has happened,” he said.