The book entitled ‘The Law of Emergency Powers: Comparative Common Law Perspectives’ authored by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, and Professor Khagesh Gautam, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), was released on 23 January, 2021 by Supreme Court of India Judge Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramanna, along with three other judges of the apex court Hon’ble Mr. Justice Surya Kant, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hon’ble Mr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
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).
The three jurisdictions compared in the book are the pure implied common law model (employed by the UK), implied constitutional model (employed by the US) and the explicit constitutional model (employed by India).
The book’s content has important implications, as these three jurisdictions collectively cover the largest population within the common law world and provide maximum representative diversity. The book covers the various positions on external emergencies as opposed to internal emergencies, economic/financial emergencies, and emergent inroads being made into state autonomy by the central or federal governments through use of powers like Article 356 of the Indian Constitution.
Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), said, “The scholarship and wisdom of this book is essential in understanding the application of the law regarding the interpretation of emergency powers, their application and the impact on Constitutionalism. The deep and rigorous analysis of emergency power in India and the comparison with the US and UK systems will provide insight and is an essential reading for all who want to understand the complexity of emergency powers and their application in the leading democracies of the world.”
Reflecting on his experience at the Supreme Court Bar, Dr. Singhvi said: “This work is the result of many years of hard work and patience. The work you see here today was originally prepared as my doctoral dissertation in Cambridge in 1985. The Supreme Court of India is not said to be the most powerful Supreme Court in the civilised world for no reason. Our Court is the only apex court in the common law world that has declared proclamations of emergency to be unconstitutional. It is not an easy thing to do. When examined in a comparative perspective, we can learn much about the manner in which a constitutional power ought to be exercised and the manner in which it is actually exercised. The wealth of citations and references in this work, and the discussion and treatment of specific issues, would be found useful by all the members of the Bench and the Bar.”
Highlighting some of the aspects of the book, Prof. Gautam said: “Study of emergency powers in India is limited usually to Article 356 of the Constitution. This work takes a more comprehensive approach. Not only does this work provide a comprehensive discussion of Articles 352 and 356, it finally fills the gap by providing a detailed treatment of Article 360, which is perhaps one of the most academically ignored provision of our Constitution.”