Title of the Case: Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain and Anr.
Citation: 1975 AIR 865, 1975 SCR (3) 333.
Court: Allahabad High Court and Supreme Court of India.
Bench: Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha (HC) and Justice Mathews, Chief Justice Ray, Justice Beg, Justice Khanna and Justice Chandrachud.                                 


The third proclamation between 25 June 1975 to January 1977 was under controversial circumstances of political insecurity under Indira Gandhi’s premiership, when exigency was declared on the base of” internal disturbances”. The proclamation incontinently followed a ruling in the Allahabad High Court, that voided the Prime Minister’s election from Rae Bareli in the 1971 Indian general election. She was also banned from querying election for coming 6 times, challenging her legality to continue in her post. Indira Gandhi, rather recommended to the also chairman Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to annunciate a state of exigency to strengthen her hand.


The case was filed by Raj Narain, a political activist who had queried the 1971 Lok Sabha   choices against the also- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. After losing the election, Narain filed a   solicitation seeking the exposure of certain documents relating to the charges incurred by Gandhi during her election crusade. The State of Uttar Pradesh, where the solicitation was filed, refused to   expose the documents, citing reasons of confidentiality.  The case went to the Allahabad High Court, which directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to expose the documents to Raj Narain. The state government also appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of the High Court and held that citizens have a right to know about the functioning of government agencies.


Shri Raj Narain, the supplicant in Eelection Petition No. 5 of 1971. in the High Court of Allahabad, made an operation on 27 July, 1973 for summoning certain substantiations along with documents mentioned in the operation. The process was inter alia for the following  substantiations along with following documents First the Secretary, General Administration, State of Uttar Pradesh Lucknow or any officer authorized by him was summoned to produce inter alia( a)  leaflets  entered from the Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry of the Union Government regarding the security and  stint arrangements of Shrimati Indira Nehru Gandhi,’ the replier in Election Petition for the  stint programmes of Rae Bareli District on 1, 24 and 25February., 1971 or any general order for security arrangement; and all correlation between the State of Uttar Pradesh and the Government of India and between the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the Prime Minister regarding Police classification for meeting of the Prime Minister by State Government and in regard to their charges.   a) Alternate, the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow was also summoned along with inter alia the documents,  videlicet,  leaflets  entered from the Home Ministry and Defence Ministry of the Union Government regarding the security and  stint arrangements of Shrimati Indira Nehru Gandhi for the  stint programmes of Rae Bareli District for 1, 24 and 25 February, 1971;( b) All correlation between the State of Uttar Pradesh and the Government of India and between the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister, regarding the classification of Police for the arrangement of meeting for the Prime Minister by State Government and in regard to their charges.  Third, the Head Clerk of the office of the supervisor of Police of District Rae Bareli was summoned along with inter alia the following( a) all documents relating to the  stint program of Shkimati Indira Nehru Gandhi of District Rae Bareli for 1 and 25 February, 1971;( b) all the documents relating to arrangement of Police and other security measures  espoused by the Police and all documents relating to charges incurred on the Police  labor force, arrangements of the Police, arrangements for constructions of Rostrum,  obsession of loudspeakers and other arrangements through supervisor of Police, District Rae Bareli. On 3 September, 1973 the process was issued to the Secretary, General Administration. The process was championed to the Confidential Department by the General Department on 3 September, 1973 as will appear from paragraph 5 of the affidavit ofR.K. Kaul, Commissioner and Secretary in- charge. On 5 September, 1973 there was an operation by the Chief Standing Counsel on behalf of the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow for explanation to the effect that the Chief Secretary isn’t tête-à-tête needed to appear pursuant to the process. The learned Judge made an order on that day that the Chief Secretary need not tête-à-tête attend and that the papers might be transferred through some officer. On 6 September, 1973S.S. Saxena, Under Secretary, Confidential Department, was deputized by R.K. Kaul, Home Secretary as well as Secretary, Confidential Department, to go to the High Court with the documents summoned and to claim honor. This will appear from the operation of S.S. Saxena dated 19 September, 1973.   On 11 September, 1973 there was an order as follows. The operation of the election supplicant for rejection of the claim for honor be put up for disposal. The arguments might take some time and thus the papers should be left by Saxena in a sealed cover in the Court. In case the expostulation would be sustained, the substantiation Saxena. was to be informed to take back the sealed cover.   On 12 September, 1973 an operation was filed by Ram Sewak Lal Sinha on an affidavit that the supervisor of Police. Rae Bareli claimed honor under- section 123 of the substantiation- Act. The substantiation was discharged. On behalf of the election supplicant it was said that an expostulation would be filed to make a request that the supervisor of Police, Rae Bareli be produced before the Court for cross examination. The election supplicant filed the expostulation to the affidavit claiming honor by the supervisor of Police, Rae Bareli. On behalf of the election supplicant it was said that the first process addressed to the Secretary, General Administration needed him or an officer authorised by him to give substantiation and to produce the documents mentioned therein. The alternate process was addressed to the Home Secretary to give substantiation on 12 September, 1973. The third process was addressed to the Chief Secretary to give evidence on 12 September, 1973 and to produce certain documents. The first process, it’s said on behalf of the election supplicant, related to the stint programmes of the Prime Minister. The election supplicant, it’s said, wanted the documents for two reasons. First, that these documents would have a bearing on allegations of loose practice, therefore, exceeding the specified limits of election charges. The election supplicant’s case is that stage, loudspeakers, decoration would be within the expenditure of the seeker. Second, the seeker had the backing of the Gazetted Officer for incubating the prospects of the seeker’s election.


The Supreme Court of India was of the opinion that the meaning of Section 123 of the Indian substantiation Act, 1872, revolved around the principle of precluding public injury. The judges stated that for any document which can affect public policy and farther developments, the court should have complete access to the documents involved.  They stated that if the government doesn’t claim timely honor in any affidavit, also they haven’t fulfilled their obligation as per Section 123 of the Indian substantiation Act, 1872.  The decision made sure that when the quantum of public interest affected by non-disclosure outlasts the quantum of public interest affected by exposure; the Court had every right to demand the product of the documents.  The Supreme Court of India instructed that, under Section 162 of the Indian substantiation Act, 1872, any kind of expostulation to earning a particular governmental document, should be put forth and filed on the date of product of the document, as in that case, the court can decide the extent and validity of the expostulation.  The Supreme Court of India held the decision of the Allahabad High court to be valid and stated that the part of the bar is to decide if a document is favorable to the public interest.


Composition 392 A Clause (4) AND Its indigenous Validity Doctrine Of Drive Structure-  Kesavananda Bharti Case is a  corner case where the Hon’ble Supreme Court has laid down Doctrine of the introductory structure. It held that “introductory structure of the Constitution couldn’t be disannulled indeed by an indigenous correction”.  The Judgement listed some introductory structures of the constitution as  

1. Supremacy of the Constitution

2. Unity and sovereignty of India

3. Popular and democratic form of government

4. Civil character of the Constitution

5. temporal character of the Constitution

6. Separation of power

7. Individual freedom 

Composition 368 of the Constitution has given the power to the Parliament to amend the Constitution by the ways of variation, repeal or addition of provision by procedure which is laid down and which is different from the Ordinary legislation.  In this, The Hon’ble Supreme Court applied the Doctrine of Basic structure laid down in the Case Kesavananda Bharti Case. The Supreme Court said that Article329 A Clause (4) need to be struck down because It states that validity of election won’t be batted and the disagreement won’t be governed by any election law. It also abolishes the honor and remedy to test validity of choices. The choices will be considered valid. So, this was affecting the introductory structure of The Constitution.


The Supreme Court after observing the data of this case appertained that the section 123(7) of the Peoples Representative (Amendment) Act, 1975 has the term seeker, as the person who files the nomination paper. The Supreme Court held that on 1st Feb, 1971, the nomination was filed by Indira Gandhi. So, before this date, if any help or backing is taken from the fortified forces or govt.  officers won’t be considered as loose practices.  The Supreme Court also asserted in data of Yashpal Kapoor where it was clear that on 13th Jan, 1971 abdication letter was given by the President and it was conceded on 25th Jan, 1971. The Yashpal Kapoor begin working under Indira Gandhi from 1st Feb, 1971. So, the backing handed by him to Indira Gandhi wasn’t a loose practice. The Courts also held by pertaining section 77 of the Peoples Representative (Amendment) Act, 1951 that the charges which are used for the choices doesn’t comes under the election charges of the seeker. Also, getting involved with the functions of activities organized by political party doesn’t comes under the election expenses of the candidate.


The correction destroyed the election and the law relating to it; it took down a remedy from the defeated party in the election. Raj Narain filed a cross appeal and challenged both the correction to Representation of people Act and also the Thirty Ninth indigenous Correction Act, 1975. The appeal was argued by both sides on the base that the case was governed by the maturity in Keshavananda case i.e. the correction power of the government didn’t extend to the altering the Basic Structure of the constitution. The grounds on which the challenge was grounded are as follows

 It’s well known that Art. 329- A was added to the Constitution by 29th Correction which made the election of a person holding office of the Prime Minister to the Lok Sabha beyond the authority of a law court including the Supreme Court and thereby aimed at furnishing protection to Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the also Prime Minister whose election had been set- aside by Allahabad High Court on a finding of banned loose practice committed by her.  The correction was passed when several members of the Parliament were absent due to their arrest under preventative detention. The correction destroys Judicial Review, and also Separation of Powers both of which form a part of the introductory structure of the Constitution. Art. 368


The court proved that the Parliament is by Law and it is not vice-versa. Judiciary crushed the Parliament’s course to establish supremacy and the attempt to make itself above the Constitution. The Court did uphold the substance of republic free and fair choices.   In the pith of the substance, the main end of the Correction was to reverse the High Court’s judgement that abrogated Indira Gandhi’s election and rather of relinquishing, she assessed exigency and passed the draconian 39th Amendment Act, 1975 which was struck down by the Supreme Court. The case upheld both Rule of Law and Separation of Power and made it absolutely clear that confirmation or nullification of choices is really a judicial matter and cannot be obtruded by the Legislature. The Court proved that the Parliament cannot take the law in its own hands and upheld republic. Indira Gandhi’s vicious attempts of putting her government’s legislative powers above the Constitution came all crashing down and the Fundamental Rights Case decision proved to be accurate and precise to its core.

AUTHOR: Arjit Srivastava

School Of Law, GD Goenka University

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