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Episode 6

The darkest hour

The emergency brings in a series of draconian measures including mass sterilisation drives, slum demolitions and press censorship. The conflict between the court and the government seems to have abated for now. Even the basic structure judgement has been dormant for two years. But suddenly, a bench is constituted to review the judgement. A fresh phase of courtroom drama unfolds as Nani Palkhivala comes to defend the judgement. It is described as his finest hour in court. The Gandhi government moves to make other drastic changes to the Constitution. After that, the emergency is abruptly lifted and elections are held. 



Host: Raghu Karnad

Research Manager: Ramya Boddupalli

Research: Bhavya Dore, Ramya Boddupalli

Legal Research: Aishwarya Chaturvedi

Script writing: Bhavya Dore, Ramya Boddupalli

Script Editor: Supriya Nair

Producer: Gaurav Vaz

Sound Design, Score & Title Track: Saachi Rajadhyaksha

Mixing & Mastering: Ayan De

Advisors: Lawrence Liang, Ranvir Singh, Shyam Divan and Vivek Divan

Show notes

Guest speakers in this episode include:​

  1. AK Ganguli

  2. Ajoy Bose

  3. Arvind Datar

  4. Lawrence Liang

  5. Prashant Bhushan

  6. Rajiv Khanna

  7. Justice Rohinton Nariman


Special thanks to Anand Thakore, Gita Sahgal, Homi Ranina, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Reetika Subramanian and Vimal Thakore.




Audio and Sound clips:

1976 - Emergency era interview with Indira Gandhi during Mauritius Visit

Exclusive: LK Advani On The 'Emergency' Comment

Anil Divan on habeas corpus case: 


Indira Gandhi calls for elections: 

Leader Of Janata Party Narayan Arrives To Jaipur To Launch Elections Campaign: 

1977 General Elections - Congress rally at Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh 


Book and other resources

  1. For Reasons of State: Delhi Under Emergency by Ajoy Bose by John Dayal

  2. Working a Democratic Constitution by Granville Austin

  3. Neither Thorns nor Roses by HR Khanna

  4. Courting Destiny by Shanti Bhushan

  5. The Indian Supreme Court and Politics by Upendra Baxi

  6. The Emergency, future safeguards and the habeas corpus case by HM Seervai


Ajoy Bose: It was just the atmosphere, you know, of those days, where anything went because the judiciary seemed to be completely castrated. And the media was also in a similar position, censored and everybody knew that, you know, there was absolutely no free sort of, you know, dissemination of news. So I think that that was the kind of situation the incident which in my book, on the emergency, I highlighted, was the Turkman Gate massacre. 


Host: This is the senior journalist Ajoy Bose. Bose dropped out of college, then became a Naxailte, and eventually turned to journalism. He cut his teeth reporting some of the biggest stories of the 70s.  Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s younger son, widely believed to be her second-in-command, was hell-bent on family planning and urban development drives. Even if these goals had to be achieved by force. At the peak of the emergency, in the summer of 1976, Turkman Gate, the southern entrance of the Red Fort saw the worst of it. Authorities sent in bulldozers to forcibly clear slums there. And government-backed squads picked up local men and forced them onto operating tables to be sterilised. The locals tried to fight back, the resistance grew, and police opened fire. 


Bose: There were the demolitions on the one hand and forcible sterilisations and it was a horrendous thing and we as media.. we weren’t even allowed near Turkman gate. We were stopped a good two miles (away). The area was cordoned.. and we could hear weird noises and it was, I can tell you, for as a young crime reporter it was such a frustrating thing. 

Host: Ajoy Bose was with Patriot, a left-wing newspaper. He later co-wrote a book about Delhi under Emergency called For Reasons of State and a second, The Shah Commission Begins, on the inquiry that followed.

Bose: And we would just hear stories of what was happening. It's only later that one investigated from lane to lane and getting their stories after the emergency was over that we sort of recreated what happened actually. 


Host: At Turkman Gate, what began as a slum clearance and sterilisation programme ended in catastrophe. The senior journalist Kuldip Nayar later said that more than 100 people died in the operation. 

This is not how the government said the emergency would go. Early on, it had led the country to believe that this was a temporary phase till it got the economy and the political situation under control. It lulled the public by introducing a Twenty Point Programme with schemes like housing and debt relief for landless labourers, and higher minimum wages. But soon, the Emergency entered a more sinister phase. The weight of the Indian bureaucracy was suddenly thrown at sterilisation and slum clearance programmes to meet arbitrary targets.



None of this was reported in the mainstream press. All through, Indira Gandhi continued to portray herself as the only political leader looking out for the people:

Interviewer: Madam, I read a bit of history. Abraham Lincoln who is called the consolidator of the States was similarly accused of trying to break the States, of trying to put people in prison, override judgements and things like that. Do you see yourself –

Indira Gandhi: No I am a very humble person and I think Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest men there were.. But he did face somewhat similar problems because a lot of people thought that he should compromise with the south rather than give so much importance to abolition of slavery in the Union. 

Interviewer: But we don’t consider you any lesser than Lincoln.



Host: As the Emergency entered its second year, the government began preparing for radical constitutional change. General elections kept getting postponed. There was talk of switching the country to a presidential system to give the government more power. With most of the opposition behind bars and the press muzzled, there would be little resistance to the government’s designs. But one important check still remained: the courts. 

This is the story of the Kesavananda Bharati case and the constitutional crisis it emerged from. Last time, we saw how the court created the basic structure doctrine and how it passed its first test in the shadow of the emergency. We’ll now follow the tightening of the emergency, including the government’s efforts to undermine the courts and the Kesavananda judgement, culminating in yet another devastating constitutional amendment. I’m Raghu Karnad, and this is the sixth episode of S2 of Friend of the Court, a series about the most important case in the legal history of independent India. 


<Title track>


Host: In the Raj Narain case challenging Indira Gandhi’s election, the Supreme Court struck down parts of the 39th amendment which shielded the Prime Minister’s election from legal challenge. The bench said that these provisions violated the basic structure. The meaning of the basic structure had remained a puzzle until this moment. This was the first step towards clarifying it. Justice YV Chandrachud noted that the amendment offended the common man’s notion of justice which was essential for democracies. Justice HR Khanna, the swing judge in Kesavananda, said parts of the 39th amendment violated the principle of free and fair elections, an essential element of democracy. He also clarified that all fundamental rights, except the right to property were a part of the basic structure. 

For two years after the Kesavananda judgement, the basic structure doctrine faded out of the public gaze. The Raj Narain judgement reaffirmed the doctrine to keep the country’s most powerful elected official in check. The government’s response was swift.  



Host: On November 10 1975, three days after the judgement in Raj Narain a full bench assembled in court. 

Datar: The review came up unexpectedly, no review petition was filed. So it suddenly came up and it was posted on a Monday and 13-judges were constituted… 


Host: This is senior advocate Arvind Datar. As he says, Chief Justice AN Ray constituted a bench to re-examine Kesavananda Bharati. It is true that no petition was filed, as is common practice in important constitutional matters. But a few weeks earlier, while hearing the election case, the attorney general had orally requested a review of Kesavananda saying that there was no clarity on the basic structure doctrine. So on October 20, Ray issued an order saying a 13-judge bench would convene. They would consider whether the basic structure judgement was correct. 



Host: It was unprecedented. A review is rarely ordered merely on an oral plea. This drove speculation that Ray was under pressure from the government to do something, anything, to try and reopen the Kesavananda judgement. As the review loomed, Nani Palkhivala, who had passionately fought to limit Parliament’s amending power, decided to act. First, he dashed off a letter to the Prime Minister, urging her to drop the attempt to overrule Kesavananda. And on 10th November, when the case came up for hearing, Palkhivala was in courtroom number 1 to defend the doctrine. 


Bhushan: He was very, very eloquent and he came out with very good, innovative, sound arguments. And his eloquence was, of course, magnificent... He was at the peak of his sort of judicial or juridical power. So it was certainly a very, very masterly performance… 


Host: Many like advocate Prashant Bhushan whom you just heard from, can never forget that performance. When the matter was called out, Palkhivala argued on multiple fronts. He mixed logic, rhetoric and legal acumen in a dazzling display. He argued that there were no cogent reasons to undertake a review, and even if it could be done, it should not be done. 


Bhushan: So he said: What is the basis for the review? I mean has the court found that this judgement, Kesavananda Bharati has had a very baneful effect on jurisprudence or on democracy or on public life or anything like that? Who has said that? Where has it been said? And if at all, that judgement has shown the importance over the last three years, the correctness and importance of that judgement has been proved. One constitutional amendment has been struck down by using and applying that judgement. 


Host: Palkhivala recalled that he was accused of fear-mongering while arguing in the Kesavananda case. But now living through the emergency, his worries no longer appeared hypothetical. Bhushan, who was present in court, and later wrote about it, paraphrases some of what he said: 


Bhushan: Democracy today is under threat. Every kind of amendment can be pushed through. This is the emergency. Anything can be done. The only thing that would save us or save our democracy would be Kesavananda Bharati. 

Host: Justice Beg remarked that the court “found it difficult” to understand the Kesavananda Bharati judgement. Palkhivala was annoyed. Datar tells us more: 


Datar: I mean, you can make out the man is livid with anger as to what you're doing. So they said that, we don't know what's the basic structure. So he says, I never thought that I will live to see the Supreme Court not understanding its own judgement. Then he says, are you a debating society? Why are we reviewing it? We have spent 70 odd days 80 odd days listening to this case, and now you want to review it? Due process is not defined. There's so many important phrases which are not defined, but they're still understood. So many important concepts are kept deliberately impossible to define because they have to keep on meeting the changes of time. So he said essential features are essential features and you do not have to ever define them. 

Host: The next day, it was the government’s turn to respond to Palkhivala. The Chief Justice turned to Attorney General Niren De. AK Ganguli, who is now a senior advocate, worked with De as a young lawyer, and was in court that day. He tells us what happened next:

AK Ganguli: He said, Mr. Attorney General, am I not correct that there have been occasions when you had been suggesting that the decision would require a reconsideration? Niren De stood up, and he said, that is true. In many cases, I have suggested that, because when the question came as to what are the basic features of the Constitution, we were struggling to find out which are those because Kesavananda Bharati does not expressly lay down which are those. Some judges have listed some of them, others have not spoken anything about it. 


Host: Justice Khanna asked De if the basic structure had come in the way of the government’s work so far. He said it had not. But De pointed out that the meaning of the basic structure was unclear and had caused uncertainty in law making. 


Ganguli: So there is a kind of an ambiguity. So we were saying that it is better that we know for certain what are those basic features so that the government is also alerted and they know those are the limits of their authority, and cannot cross those limits. 

Host: As the arguments progressed, one question would not go away: what had prompted this review? Ray made a surprising claim. He said that Tamil Nadu and some other state governments had also sought a review. Then, things took a turn. 

Datar: The Advocate General of Tamil Nadu Mr Govind Swaminathan he had the courage to get up and say, I never asked for the review. JM Thakur of Gujarat said we never asked for the review. We don’t even know why we are here. 



Host: That was Datar again, telling us that it was all starting to come apart. Even the other judges were asking questions. On November 12, the courtroom was once again packed. Niren De was set to resume his arguments. Before that, however, Chief Justice AN Ray abruptly declared, “the bench is dissolved”. For two days, he reportedly said, arguments had “gone on in the air.” Prashant Bhushan tells us more: 

Bhushan: I think AN Ray must have got a sense of what his brother judges were feeling. They must have been uncomfortable with the constitution of this review bench. Especially after Palkhivala's arguments. So, of course, there was fear during the Emergency… But that fear didn't percolate down to all the 13 judges. Collectively they felt, I think, that this was a bit too much, this attempted review.


Host: This attempt to overturn Kesavananda Bharati had been unsuccessful. Though the emergency was in force, the judiciary was not completely toothless. And the Supreme Court wasn’t alone in pushing back. High Courts across the country were creating other headaches for the government.



Host: Before it announced the Emergency on the morning of June 26, 1975, the government had begun imprisoning its opponents. Opposition leaders JP Narayan, Morarji Desai, Madhu Dandavate, AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, Raj Narain, Piloo Mody and hundreds of others were thrown in jail. Within 24 hours, the government effectively suspended the fundamental right to life and liberty. It did so by preventing prisoners from challenging their arrest in court. 


Advani: Jis stage par ki main baat kar raha hoon, uss samay kitna samay hum andar honge, kitna samay Emergency hogi iske baare mein andaaze lagane sarasar fizool thi. This was something by itself, apart from the duration of incarceration by itself it was incredible ki MPs aaye hue hain ek Parliamentary committee ke meeting mein bhaag lene ke liye Bangalore mein aur unko giraftar kiya jaa raha hai! 


Host: That was BJP leader LK Advani. In 1975, he was a Rajya Sabha MP. He and Vajpayee were detained in Bangalore where they were attending a Parliamentary committee meeting. Their lawyers defied the government ban on approaching the courts and challenged their arrest anyway. 


Advani: In fact when the reaction of the Bangalore High Court that day when we filed the habeas corpus petition also that day or a day later was something similar to “what’s gone wrong with this government.” 

Host: Habeas corpus is a constitutional protection against illegal arrest. It means a judge can ask the police to present a prisoner before a court to determine the legality of their arrest. Fundamentally, it is a protection against the state;s power to make a person disappear. The Karnataka High Court and eight other high courts hearing similar petitions across the country sided with the prisoners and upheld their right to challenge their arrests. The government counter-challenged these rulings and the case went to the Supreme Court before a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ray. Prominent members of the bar, including CK Daphtary, Shanti Bhushan, Ram Jethmalani, Anil Divan and Soli Sorabjee represented the detainees. This eventually became known as the ADM Jabalpur case or the habeas corpus case. Anil Divan later spoke about his role: 

Anil Divan: And the bench was of course Chief Justice Ray. To his right was Justice Khanna, I still remember. Justice Beg, Justice Chandrachud and Justice Bhagwati.  And strong arguments took place. I argued that the position now contended for by the government is worse than a Roman slave. Because if a Roman slave was attacked physically or maimed he had remedy, he could go complain. Today, the Indian citizen does not have that right if the government is correct.


Host: These hearings produced one of the most talked-about courtroom exchanges in our history. Attorney General Niren De said the prisoners could not challenge their arrests because in an emergency, citizens had no right to life. On hearing this, Justice Khanna asked him: if a policeman killed someone out of personal enmity would that be considered legal? Here’s Khanna’s son, Rajiv: 


Rajiv Khanna: And I think Niren De, in fairness of things, said that, consistent with my argument… the right of life is also extinguished during a period of emergency. 


Host: On a hot April day in 1976, as 14 fans whirred overhead, young lawyers craned to hear the outcome in the dimly-lit courtroom. They expected the bench to rule in favour of the prisoners, and uphold the rights of citizens. To everyone’s shock, the court sided with the government. In a 4:1 judgement, the bench ruled prisoners could not challenge their arrests. In other words, the court held that citizens could not expect to enjoy their fundamental right to life and liberty in an emergency. Justice Beg even observed that the detainees were well-fed and treated almost maternally by the state. Here’s Anil Divan reading out excerpts from another opinion:


Anil Divan: This is what Chandrachud held and I’ll read out those four lines so that you don’t forget the impact. He writes in one of his last paragraphs “Counsel after counsel expressed the fear that during the emergency the executive may whip and strip and starve the detenu. And if this be our judgement, even shoot him down.” This was our argument as recorded. “Such misdeeds have not tarnished the record of India and I have a diamond hard hope that such things will never come to pass.”  He might have been fearful. But to write this, and give a certificate to the government is I think the lowest watermark which the Supreme Court ever reached.   

Host: Only one judge wrote a powerful dissent. That was Justice HR Khanna. Here’s Rajiv Khanna again:  

Rajiv Khanna: And he concluded his dissenting judgement by quoting the views of Justice Hughes, which are as under, that the dissent in a court of last resort, to use his words, is an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future date, when a later decision may possibly correct an error, which the dissenting judgement believes the court to have betrayed. So I think he recognized the fact that hopefully, someday, his views will be upheld. 


Host: The New York Times made a special mention of Khanna’s views. 

Khanna: New York wrote that if India ever finds its way back to the freedom and democracy that were proud hallmarks of its first 18 years as an independent nation, someone will surely erect the monument to Justice HR Khanna of the Supreme Court. 


Host: In five months, the court went from striking down a constitutional amendment in the election case to validating tyranny. It had completely capitulated to the government. Journalist Ajoy Bose explains how things got to this point:

Bose: I think that it was a very, very abnormal time. And I think that kind of underlied that abnormality, but a lot of this drama was playing out in court. But increasingly, the courts and this from a professor to a rickshawala, knew that the courts, the judiciary, was no longer impartial, was no longer it wasn't, you know, it was with the government, the government could do anything. 

Host: It is impossible to grasp the individual motivations of the judges. But the political atmosphere they were functioning in holds some clues. Events in the run up to the case suggest that the government was stepping up pressure. In December 1975, a pamphlet titled “Fresh Look at our Constitution—Some Suggestions” surfaced in Delhi. It was the work of two Congress politicians. Their pamphlet recommended  that judges to the higher judiciary be appointed by the President on advice of the council of ministers.  

Then, the Prime Minister refused to renew the appointments of two additional judges, UR Lalit of the Bombay High Court and RN Aggarwal of the Delhi High Court. Both of them had earlier ruled in favour of political prisoners. There was speculation that the judges on the Supreme Court bench wanted to avoid a similar fate. And their fears were not entirely unfounded. Nine months after the habeas corpus judgement, Justice HR Khanna, the sole dissenting judge in that case, paid the price for his opinion. 

Rajiv: When he wrote the judgement, he was prepared. That is, this is a judgement, which is going to cost him the Chief Justice ship of India. And he mentioned that to his sister, after dictating the judgement. 


Host: The government superseded him and appointed his immediate junior, Justice Beg as the next Chief Justice of India. Like the three judges superseded after Kesavananda, Khanna too resigned in protest.



Host: The habeas corpus case showed the government’s tightening grip over democratic institutions. But a more direct assault on the Constitution was in the works. In January 1976, there was talk of making “significant changes” to the Constitution in Parliament. The next month, the Congress appointed a committee headed by Defence Minister Sardar Swaran Singh to study the Constitution and recommend changes. This eventually culminated in the 42nd Amendment. On 1st September, Indira Gandhi’s trusted law minister HR Gokhale introduced the amendment in the Lok Sabha. 

Clip: A special session of Parliament is convened to consider the 44th Constitution amendment bill. This historic piece of legislation seeks to reassert the supremacy of Parliament and its powers to amend any provision of the Constitution. 

Host: It opened with a reminder: “a Constitution to be living must be growing;” followed by a warning: if the Constitution was not amended, the government would not be able to achieve its developmental objectives. The amendment was drastic and exhaustive; and proposed a total of 59 changes. It is not for nothing that the 42nd amendment has been called the “mini-Constitution”. 

Clip: The Preamble, the key to the Constitution for the first time incorporates the words socialism and secularism, the Directive Principles of State Policy take precedence over the Fundamental Rights and they are enforceable. 

Host: If you have been paying attention so far, you would notice that these ideas aren’t new. Indira Gandhi had been laying out some version of them since she came to power in the late 1960s. She had tried to push them through earlier with amendments that had led to the Kesavananda challenge in the first place. What was different this time, was that it was making these changes while most of the opposition was behind bars. 

The opposition members still left in Parliament objected to the introduction of the bill. HM Patel, a Swatantra Party MP from Gujarat, reminded the house that during an emergency, Parliament was authorised only to conduct business that was essential for the functioning of the government. Tridib Chaudhuri from West Bengal, reminded the government that the Supreme Court prevented Parliament from altering the basic structure. Gokhale responded by attacking the Kesavananda ruling. He said that the court had not clearly outlined what fell within the basic structure so it was difficult to say that the new amendment violated it. Despite the opposition’s objections, the Lok Sabha Speaker permitted the bill to be debated. 

Let’s take a look at some of the bill’s provisions. 


Host: It introduced a new chapter called the fundamental duties. Indira Gandhi said this was added to “establish a democratic balance” to rectify what she described as a “one-sided stress on rights.” These duties were not enforceable, meaning citizens couldnt’ be punished for violating them. But it signalled a shift in the relationship between the government and citizens. Lawrence Liang, Professor of Law at Ambedkar University Delhi tells us:

Liang: It is a shift in the vocabulary of political power. When you speak the language of duties you are looking at the idea of the all encompassing state to whom citizens owe duties. 


Host: Then came the big ones. Remember Article 31C? The controversial provision that debuted in the 25th amendment? Its original avatar made the fundamental rights to freedom, equality and property subordinate to one Directive Principle: the one that said the government had to work for the common good. The Kesavananda judgement had struck down parts of it. Now, the 42nd amendment gave it a draconian new life. This version made the fundamental rights to equality, freedom and property secondary to all the Directive Principles. Meaning, the government could now violate these rights to achieve goals like the prevention of cow slaughter, promotion of cottage industries and a uniform civil code.  


Liang: It said, any law that is introduced with the objectives of advancing the objectives of the Directive principles were beyond the pale of judicial review. In that, no challenge could be made on the ground of their violating Fundamental Rights. Which is overturning the classical distinction between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. if as we have seen Fundamental Rights are primary because they are justiciable, here all of a sudden a Directive Principle is given primacy.


Host: The amendment allowed Parliament to make laws banning broadly defined “anti-national activities.” Such laws also could not be struck down even if they violated the rights to freedom, equality and property. 


Host: But this was not all. The amendment dealt a lethal blow to the balance of power between the government and court. It barred courts from hearing election disputes and restricted the powers of high courts. Then, it handed back to Parliament the absolute power to amend the Constitution. In other words, it rejected the idea that the Constitution had a basic structure which Parliament could not touch. Another clause completed this shift towards Parliamentary supremacy. Former Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Nariman explains:

Nariman: 368(4) went further and said you cannot touch an amendment on any ground whatsoever. So that, suppose for example, an amendment required ratification and was not ratified. You could not touch it even on that ground even on that procedural ground. So 368(4) and (5) was the pernicious provisions which did away with Kesavananda Bharati. And the basic structure doctrine.

Host: With this, the government had finally exacted its revenge for the Kesavananda judgement.  Some MPs cheered what they called the ceremonial burial of the basic structure doctrine. Here’s Indira Gandhi defending the changes in an interview: 


Gandhi: I don't think the courts are entirely… I don't think the matters have been taken out of the hands of the courts. But all that we are trying to do is give Parliament its due rights. Because we found they were being impinged upon and the Constitution was being interpreted in such a way which was against its very spirit. And which prevented any kind of reform. 

Host: The 42nd amendment came into force in December 1976. The day after the Lok Sabha passed it, the Times of India carried a report headlined “No more lawyer’s paradise.” The amendment meant that constitutional lawyers could no longer “quibble in the courts.” In fact, the courts could no longer serve as an effective check on government excess. 

Liang: This was exactly what Palkhivala and others were all warning about. If you have someone who is so inclined, they can make it into a dictatorship. 



Host: At the end of 1976, the Lok Sabha extended its term by another year. The opposition benches demanded that the government end the emergency and hold elections. But the government refused. It argued that an election would give a new lease of life” to the opposition in its “efforts to undermine democracy.” Within three months, though, Indira Gandhi changed her mind.

Clip: On the 18th of January 1977 Mrs. Gandhi, with her instinct for the dramatic, surprised the world by making an unscheduled broadcast to the nation… fresh elections were announced. 


Host: Even her closest advisors were taken by surprise, while her critics saw the elections as a ploy. Ajoy Bose again:


Bose: I just felt that she was somebody who liked to have this legitimacy, that she didn't want to keep this election postponed every year, every year, every year, because that was an admission that things were abnormal in the country, and she was acutely conscious of what the Western media thought of her. We just felt that now that having completely whipped the country into submission, they just wanted legitimacy.

Host: Soon after the announcement, the government released the political prisoners it had kept behind bars since June 1975. The opposition leaders swung into campaign mode immediately. They joined hands to form the Janata Party to take on the Congress. 

Inevitably, the election turned into a referendum on the emergency. The new party promised to restore fundamental freedoms and democratic government. They said it was a choice between dictatorship and democracy. Here’s Janata leader Jayaprakash Narayan himself describing the choice:


JP: The Prime Minister has already acted in a dictatorial manner giving us a sour taste of what she might do if she receives a mandate from the people again to rule over the country.  


Host: But Gandhi insisted it was a choice between democracy and chaos. 

Indira Gandhi: Jab sabse kathin samay se guzar rahe the toh virodhi dalon ne koshish ki ki chalo mauka acha hai, sarkar ko kamzor karo aur ho sake toh girao. Toh charon taraf andolan hue.. Toh aisa lagta tha ki desh bilkul neeche jaa raha hai, Sakht kadam uthana hi pada.. Ab usko chahein tanashahi kahe, asal mein tanashahi jisko kehte hain wo bahut zyada badi cheez hoti hai. Jin deshon mein tanashahi hai wahan chunav hote hi nahi hain. Humne chunav bulaya hai. 


Host: The Congress was confident. Indira Gandhi was receiving reports of her popularity from various sources, including the intelligence bureau. 


But on results day in March 1977, the country gave her a rude shock: the Janata Party had won 295 seats. In a poetic twist, Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi in Rae Bareilly. Gandhi’s other old rival, Morarji Desai, became the country’s first non-Congress Prime Minister.

Clip: The manner and the margin of Mr Desai's election victory last month still has Delhi breathless. As the new ministers filed into (meet) acting president Jatti, to take their oaths of office they were completing what amounts to a political revolution. The replacement after 30 years in power of India's Congress party, architects of Independence, the party of Pandit Nehru and Mrs Gandhi… 

Host: Morarji Desai assured the country that the Janata government would investigate the excesses of the emergency. 

Clip: unless the people are fearless no democracy is ever safe. Therefore we have got to see that people become fearless. That’s how the government should act and work. 

Host: Desai, whom you just heard, promised a new kind of rule. One of the priorities was undoing Indira Gandhi’s most drastic recent constitutional changes. Join us next time for the final episode of season 2 of Friend of the Court. We’ll follow the Janata government’s efforts to restore the Constitution and join Palkhivala in one final fight to bring the basic structure doctrine back to life. A constitutional crisis, brewing for over a decade, is about to get one more chance at resolution. Until then, I’m your host, Raghu Karnad.

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