New Delhi, Jun 15: The Central Information Commission today directed the president's secretariat to make public all the documents on the declaration of Emergency by the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in 1975 including communications from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
However, the transparency panel exempted any "advice" tendered by Gandhi to Ahmed on the imposition of internal Emergency as it would be a privileged document under Article 74 of the Constitution which cannot be made public.
In his order delivered on an RTI query, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi termed the Emergency as a "challenge to India's commitment to democracy" which was symbolised by "curtailment of fundamental rights of citizens, restrictions on freedom of press, illegal detention and abuse of citizens and enactment of draconian laws."
"Most institutions of governance when asked to bend, prostrated themselves and crawled. This showed that the institutions of democracy had not become robust to withstand an assault. Given the same, it is imperative for citizens to know the reasons why and how democracy in India was nearly lost," Gandhi said and asked the President's Secretariat to disclose the details to the RTI applicant before July 10.
He further said there was "immense" public interest in disclosure of the materials and documents on the basis of which Emergency was declared.
"The citizens of India have a right to know the same. India needs to learn its lessons well, and without this information, citizens will not be able to derive the correct inferences of a watershed event in its journey of democracy," Gandhi said while ordering the disclosure of documents. PTI