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SC to hear 94-yr-old's plea to declare 1975 Emergency as 'unconstitutional'

The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a plea filed by a 94-year-old woman seeking to declare emergency in 1975 as "unconstitutional" and a compensation of Rs 25 crores from the authorities who have participated in the act.

SC to hear 94-yr-olds plea to declare 1975 Emergency as unconstitutional

New Delhi

A three-judge bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy will hear the plea, filed by Veena Sarin, on December 7.

The plea said that she filed it for "restitution of a lifetime spent in utter misery and anguish on account of the atrocities" suffered by her, her deceased husband, and her family. The plea said that the burial of the darkest chapter in Indian democracy is yet to provide respite to them, who it said suffered atrocities at the hands of the authorities during the Emergency period.

"The petitioner is aggrieved by the trauma and harassment faced by the Petitioner and her family including her deceased husband during the period June 1975 upon the declaration of emergency and the ensuing order passed by the then President of India under Article 358 and 359 of the Constitution of India, 1950, by virtue of which the freedoms guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution and the rights of citizens to move any court for enforcement of their fundamental rights remained suspended till the withdrawal of emergency," the plea said.

It said Sarin and her husband were compelled to leave the country for fear of being thrown into jail, for no justifiable reason, on the whims and wishes of government authority in a state where civil rights and liberties stood curbed.

Recounting the emergency, Sarin alleged that the then government authorities ceased the gold arts business of her husband in Karol Bagh and Connaught Place, which she said he had built with 25 years of hard work.

The plea said that she and her husband were threatened by the police, their properties and valuables were forcefully taken away and a serious threat to her life and that of her family was made forcing her to live under constant fear for her life.

"The petitioner's husband succumbed to the pressure and died. Since then the petitioner has been single-handedly facing all proceedings initiated against her husband during the Emergency period, which were arbitrarily pursued," Sarin, who now lives with her daughter in Dehradun, said in her petition.

Referring to the judgment of the Delhi High Court passed in December 2014 which quashed the proceedings against her deceased husband, the plea said valuables worth crores of rupees from the flourishing business of the husband, which were seized, are yet to be restituted.

The plea said that she again approached the High Court seeking the release of immovable properties and by July 28, 2020, order she said she was partially compensated for the illegal possession of her immovable properties by the government. However, it has been contended that other valuable movable properties have been siphoned away, it said.

She further contended that the effects of this "unconstitutional injustice" has impacted her family for almost three generations.

"During the relevant period, she was shunned by her relatives and friends because of the illegal proceedings initiated against her husband and her life as she knew it, was abruptly put to an end by the circumstances of the unconstitutional emergency," the plea said.

"Declare that the proclamation of emergency vide notification dated June 25, 1975, was wholly unconstitutional and actions pursuant to the same are illegal and unjustifiable. The petitioner may kindly be compensated to the tune of Rs 25 crores to be recovered from the concerned authorities as having participated in the unconstitutional acts," it added.

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