Jagmohanlal Sinha

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Portrait of Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha

Jagmohanlal Sinha (12 May 1920 – 20 March 2008) was an Indian judge, who served in the Allahabad High Court. He is best known for his 1975 ruling in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain case in which he invalidated the election of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The political upheavals that had followed his decision resulted in Gandhi declaring Emergency across the country on the grounds of "internal disturbance".

Raj Narain case[edit]

Jagmohanlal Sinha presided on the election petition Number Five filed by petitioner Raj Narain against Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, in 1971. The petition challenged her election to the Lok Sabha in 1971 from the Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh, from where Narain had also contested.

The hearing of the case took more than four years. The case concluded on May 23, 1975 but the judgement was not announced immediately. It was pronounced that the judgement will be pronounced on June 12, 1975. June 12, 1975 witnessed courtroom No. 24 packed by lawyers, media and general public. Sinha read only the operative part of his judgement. The judgement in itself ran into 258 pages. Gandhi was declared guilty of corrupt practices and her election to the Lok Sabha was declared null and void. She was charged under Section 123(7) of the Representation of the People Act. She was also disqualified from contesting elections for six years.

Within 13 days of the judgement, Gandhi imposed Emergency on the nation. The ruling became the primary reason for the imposition of the emergency. Subsequently Gandhi used the opportunity to change the law which allowed her to rule by decree. She suspended freedom and liberties and brought Indian democracy to a halt. Consequently, in March 1977, Gandhi and her Congress party had to face a defeat and Congress was routed in the elections. This ended the uninterrupted rule of Congress over India.

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