Frontlist | 4 Supreme Court Judges Discuss Emergency Powers

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(Eds: Disclaimer: The following content is a press release. PTI takes no editorial responsibility for the same.) New Delhi, 25rd January, 2021: Hon’ble Mr. Justice, N.V. Ramana, Judge, Supreme Court of India said that emergencies have a long-lasting impact on generations. He was speaking at the launch of the book The Law of Emergency Powers: Comparative Common Law Perspectives authored by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Professor Khagesh Gautam and published by Springer in the presence of three other esteemed Supreme Court Justices: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Surya Kant, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hon”ble Dr. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud. This book has garnered a lot of attention and positive feedback in the world of law already, given its coverage of perhaps the largest population within the common law world, providing maximum representative diversity. This virtual book release event was representative of the same. “The authors have turned a very complex and understudied area of law into a simple but comprehensive work. Questions such as what such a declaration connotes, when can it be legally proclaimed and what the permissible actions during an emergency are, it is these questions, amongst others that the book tries to address by doing a cross-jurisdictional study,” Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramana said. He went on to say, “The book had its origin in the 1980s at the University of Cambridge, as part of Dr. Singhvi’s Doctorate programme under the renowned scholar of Administrative Law Professor William Wade.” Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Author and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India said, “The book rewinds over 30 years to the early 80s when I completed a 200,000-word thesis at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. I did my research on the obverse of (what fascinated me then) due process: namely the suspension of due process which is another name for emergency powers. It is a matter of some satisfaction that nearly 30 years after its writing, this book remains the first and only comprehensive and constitutional study of emergency powers in a comparative, common law perspective. It is also the first one which deals with the varied forms of emergency powers.” “The year 2020 has been one of unprecedented situations and emergencies of significant magnitudes never witnessed before,” said Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice-Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University. He also said, “Therefore, during a time like this, the book is going to be the intellectual guidance the world around us would like to have. The book presents a comprehensive legal and constitutional study of emergency powers from a comparative common law perspective. It is one of the very few comparative studies on three jurisdictions and arguably the first one to explore in detail various emergency powers, statutory and common law, constitutional and statutory law, martial law and military acting-in-aid of civil authority, wartime and peacetime invocations, and several related and vital themes like judicial review of emergency powers (existence, scope and degree). Other seminal speakers and legal luminaries of the Indian Supreme Court included Hon’ble Mr. Justice Surya Kant, Judge, Supreme Court of India, who said, “With the aid of a cross-jurisdictional and inter-disciplinary comparative analysis this book on the law of emergency powers holistically analyses emergency powers under the Constitutions of three democratic common law jurisdictions. The authors successfully aim at exploring the genesis of emergency powers philosophically in various civilisations, international instances of the armed forces aiding civil authorities and the permissibility of exercising martial law powers under the Indian Constitution. They refer to the often misused provision of the imposition of the President’s Rule under Article 356 and the possible impact on judicial challenges on the invocation of a financial emergency under Article 360.” Speaking on the notable occasion, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Judge, Supreme Court of India, said, “Academic legal writing is an important aspect for jurisprudential development. This is an area we have been lacking for long. Emergency powers seek to widen the scope of the ordinary power of the government which might be insufficient in times of crisis. The legal regimes for emergencies are constitutional limits combined with statutory powers, are key to ascertaining whether the state of emergency will prove to be a threat to the constitutionalism or measure to restore stability and constitutional order. A difficult balance! It brings to the fore critical questions on the rule of law, the separation of power in the independence of the institutions. The test perhaps, of any legal system in any constitutional democracy, therefore, lies in the addressing the fundamental tension that exists between the basic premise of the government constrained by law in the perceived need for unfettered discretionary power to confer the state of emergency…The threat that looms large across the globe lies in the possibility of triggering emergency like situations in a de facto manner without actually taking aid of the emergency provisions explicitly. The pandemic has provided one such vantage point. The balance between attending to a pandemic of this magnitude and respecting the rule of law has been carefully maintained. Unprecedented situations like these also present before us unprecedented academic and practical questions to grapple with.” The Hon”ble Dr. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Judge, Supreme Court of India, who was also present during the launch, said, “The timing for the release of this book is most opportune as just as last year, as many as 13 nations formally declared a national emergency to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. So comparative study of emergency powers is the best resource for anybody seeking to contextualise their social citizenship in these exceptional times. I am deeply impressed by the depth and the breadth of this academic endeavour. History is replete with instances of civil liberties being the collateral damage of a national emergency. Fortunately, international jurisprudence has cultivated a deeper respect for human rights and civil liberties. The book weaves a fine thread across legal principles, state philosophy and political reality to provide a nuanced perspective to its readers. The COVID-19 pandemic, will probably be one of the deep influences on the scholars of today. Fervent and frequent lockdowns, restriction of movement, enhanced powers of the executive, were a pervasive phenomenon. The Judiciary as a counter-majoritarian institution, in times of such state crisis, has to adopt a much finer line of judicial review over Executive action that is dealing with medical novelties to preserve public health.” PWR PWR
Source: Outlook India


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