Emergency as defined in the Black Law’s dictionary refers to a failure of social system in delivering and providing access to the justified and necessary conditions of life. The term emergency may also be defined as situations which arise in a spontaneous manner and call for immediate action by the governing authorities who then exercise powers granted to them. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said that the Indian Federation was unusual in that it could transform itself into a totally unitary structure in times of need. In India, the constitution’s emergency provisions allow the federal government to acquire the strength of a unitary government whenever the circumstances require it. During such urgent needs all the possible measures should be exhausted and emergency should be left as the last weapon to use. There are three types of emergencies as mentioned in the Indian Constitution namely- 

  1. National emergency 
  2. Failure of constitutional machinery in states 
  3. Financial Emergency

National Emergency 

The national emergency is mentioned in Article 352 of the Indian Constitution. When there is a major threat to India’s security or the security of any of its territories as a result of war, external attack, or armed rebellion, a national emergency is declared. The president may declare an emergency if the council of ministers, led by the Prime Minister, submits a written request. Every proclamation must be submitted before each House of Parliament, and it will cease to act after one month unless it is approved by the parliament in the interim. The proclamation may be renewed for a duration of six months unless it is cancelled by the president. For continuing with the state of emergency, it becomes essential to get the resolution passed by either house of parliament by a majority of not less than two-third members of the houses.  The executive, legislative, and financial powers of the federal government are retained during such emergencies, but the state legislature is not suspended. The union government is given the power to legislate in matters enumerated in the state list under Article 250 of the constitution. All fundamental rights are suspended, with the exception of Art. 20 and 21. During a state of emergency, the president has the authority to suspend the right to go to court to vindicate fundamental rights. The country has been under national emergency three times: in 1962, amid Chinese aggression, in 1971, during the Indo-Pak war, and in 1975, due to internal unrest.

Failure of Constitutional Machinery 

The collapse of constitutional machinery in the state, often known as the President’s rule, is discussed in Article 356. If the president believes, based on the Governor’s report or other evidence, that a situation has evolved in which the government cannot function in line with the Constitution, he may declare a state of emergency. The proclamation declaring a state of emergency must be brought before each House of Parliament, and unless both Houses approve it, the state of emergency will end after two months. Furthermore, by enacting a resolution approving its continuation, both Houses of Parliament might extend the proclamation’s term to 6 months each time. Except for the judiciary, the Union administration has complete control over the state under a state of emergency. The president takes full executive power over the state as a result of a state of emergency. He, or anybody he appoints, is in charge of the state government, which is led by the Governor. The state assembly is either dissolved or suspended under such a proclamation. The MLAs, on the other hand, do not lose their seats in the Assembly. The state list is governed by legislation enacted by Parliament. Breakdown of law and order, political instability, corruption, and maladministration are three main causes that have been invoked under Art. 356, according to previous occurrences of state emergency in the country. 

Financial emergency 

Article 360 of the constitution gives the president the authority to declare a financial emergency if he believes that India’s financial stability or credit, or any part of its territory, is in jeopardy. It must be brought before both Houses of Parliament and will cease to operate after two months unless approved by a Houses resolution in the meantime. During a financial emergency, the president’s executive authority extends to delivering directives to any state to follow specific stated canons of financial propriety, as well as any other directions he deems essential. The directives may include a cut in the pay or allowances of individuals serving a state, as well as all those involved in union affairs, like judges. There has been no occurrence of financial emergency in India till date. 


Individuals’ fundamental rights, which are judicially conferred by the Indian Constitution, may be infringed upon during the state of emergency for the exercise of power. To avoid political advantage and give way to political interest, the validity of acts must be examined. Despite abuses of emergency powers, emergency measures continue to play a significant part in the current situation.  However, they are still considered controversial in nature. After going over all of the Emergency clauses, it’s clear why they were included in the Constitution in the first place. However, while conducting research on the same, we discovered that, while these rules are in place to ensure the nation’s security as well as the safety of its citizens, they also provide for a great deal of extreme discretion in the hands of the executive. This adversely affects the federal structure of governance and administration followed in India. The structure becomes unitary in nature with maximum powers being laid in the hands of the executive. Though the suspension of Fundamental Rights has been argued for many times, we believe that they are the most fundamental to the existence of citizens in a democracy. As a result of our research, we have discovered that, notwithstanding the safety precautions provided by the amendments to the Constitution under the emergency provisions, there are still opportunities for unjust outcomes. It, therefore, becomes essential to make use of these provisions wisely. 

This article is authored by Vanshika Samir, a first-year student at the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab. 

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