Days after senior BJP leader L K Advani said that he did not have the confidence that Emergency could not happen again, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said that he personally thinks it is not possible, simply because constitution now ensures that nobody can be detained without a cause and that media censorship in the age of technology “is no longer possible”.
“Is it possible to recreate that situation today? I personally don’t think so. Firstly, one good thing that the Janata government headed by Morarji Desai did was that it amended the constitution… and now the constitution even under Emergency made Article 21 non-suspendable.
So Article 21 will always be there. So you can’t detain people without a cause,” Jaitley said at the launch of the book “The Emergency” by senior journalist Coomi Kapoor, a Consulting Editor with The Indian Express.
The minister added that “because of technology today media censorship is no longer possible” with all the “digital space, the satellites, all technological abilities which were not there” existing now.
“Today the position is very clear that if you impose a censorship, even then to implement is very difficult because the technology would defy any form of censorship. So if people can’t be detained and free flow of information takes place, then to create an environment of fear and awe is not possible,” he said.
Calling the Supreme Court “the most disappointing” amongst the various institutions during the Emergency, Jaitley said what the apex court did during the Emergency was to “put a final nail in the coffin”. “Amongst the various institutions, unquestionably the Supreme Court was the most disappointing one,” he said. “I think what the Supreme Court did was to put a final nail in the coffin.” Jaitley further said that the “Emergency itself left a permanent scar on Indian politics” and that “the whole institution of dynastic political parties started with the Emergency”.
“And that is one great aberration of Emergency that has continued till today. In that sense the evolution of India, from a normal democracy to a dyanastic democracy-this whole process started actively with that phase and that has still continued and therefore people have even mentally reconciled to political parties which are controlled by individuals or controlled by a family here or there,” he said.
The minister further said that the best lesson from the the Emergency was that the “extent of the oppression was such that the people decided to forget all their differences and not tolerate it”.
Jaitley also mentioned that with the twin exception of The Indian Express and The Statesman, “every newspaper, as a rule, had completely collapsed and surrendered to the Emergency”.
“The political parties and the activists were substantially still fighting it out. So, the media had surrendered, the bureaucracy had surrendered,” he said.