ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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LAW- The Emergency and Oath of Secrecy

The Emergency and Oath of Secrecy A G Noorani JUSTICE T P S CHAWLA's judgment delivered on December 28, 1979 qua- shing the prosecution of Indira Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee for refusing to testify before the Shah Commission discusses a large number of legal issues concerning the jurisdiction, and procedure of Commissions of Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, and is now under appeal before the Supreme Court. However, 50 of its 347 pages raise issues of public importance transcending the facts of the instant case. They concern the judicial review of the exercise of emergency powers and whether the oath of secrecy affords protection, from accountability before a tribunal to a Prime Minister who is charged with exercising the powers mala fide. They concern, in short, the maintenance of the rule of law, the very basis of civilised government There is no caster way to subvert a democratic Constitution than to abuse the emergency powers it confers. Justice H R Khanna drew pointed attention to this two years before the June 1975 Emergency, in his judgment in the fundamental rights case, citing the example of the Weimar Republic, It would be shocking, indeed, if the law were powerless to unravel the truth about so gross a malfeasance once the democratic processes are restored.

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