Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Thursday described the Emergency rule of 1975-77, proclaimed on this day in 1975, as the "worst post-independence chapter" of Indian democracy.
"The Emergency displayed the weakness of the Indian constitutional order," Jaitley, who was president of the Delhi University Students Union then, wrote in his blog.
"The press could be silenced. The judiciary could be made pliable," he said, adding that the period was marked by the detention of political activists and anybody who defied the government.
"The entire political leadership of the opposition including Jai Prakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani had been arrested...
"The government took the position that even if a detainee was physically killed, he could not approach the court. A submissive Supreme Court agreed with this observation. Most MPs were detained," he recalled.
"All the newspapers were subjected to pre-censorship. A representative of the Censoring Authority sat in the office of every newspaper and news agency.
Any parliamentary proceeding where the government was criticized could not be published," Jaitley said.
The Emergency was imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi. It lasted 19 months. Gandhi and the Congress were voted out in the 1977 Lok Sabha election.