Adoption of a universally and generally acceptable classification of emergency situations represents one of the important challenges the researchers, competent governmental authorities, and international organizations have to face. Based on this, several criteria have been proposed for defining classification of emergencies. Justification and acceptability of classification of emergency situations constitute an important prerequisite for their valid recording and better quality analysis, as well as for the international cooperation of governments, authorities in charge, members of the scientific community and non-governmental organizations from that field of work.

From the view point of territorial extent emergency may be of two types: National Emergency ; and Partial or State Emergency.

When emergency is declared, whatever may be the reason behind the declaration, throughout the whole territory of the state, it is called national emergency. On the other hand, when emergency is declared in a particular area of a unitary state or in a state of a federation, it is partial or state emergency. For example, article 352 of the Indian Constitution provides that emergency may be declared throughout India or any part thereof. Likewise, article 356 provides state emergency. The Constitution of Pakistan also provides the same provisions.2

On the basis of its nature emergency may be of following three types:

  1. Emergency of War,
  2. Emergency of Subversion: and
  3. Economic Emergency.

1.Emergency of War

When emergency is declared as a result of war or external aggression, it is called emergency of war. For example, emergency of war was declared in British India during the Second World War. This emergency was declared by the British Government under the authority of the Emergency Power (Defence) Act. 1939. In independent India emergency of war was declared for two times. First in October, 1962 when China launched a massive attack on India’s North-Eastern border. Emergency was declared under article 352 on account of external aggression. Second in December, 1971 when Pakistan attacked India.

2.Emergency of Subversion

When emergency is declared due to internal disturbances within the state i.g. to suppress civil war or any anti-government movement or a riot in any particular area of the country or to face any natural disaster, it is called emergency of subversion. For example, in Bangladesh emergency ‘was declared four times due to internal disturbance.

3.Economic or Financial Emergency

When emergency is declared with a view to overcoming a situation in which the economy of the state is about to breakdown or has broken down, it is called economic emergency. It is worthy of notice here that from the broader point of view economic emergency should be included in emergency of subversion but constitutions and laws of some countries provide specifically, in addition to emergency of subversion, for economic or financial emergency. For example, article 360 of the Indian constitution specifically provides that if the president of India is satisfied that a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of India or any part of it is threatened, he may declare emergency. Similar provision is provided for in article 235 of the Pakistan constitution. The constitution of Pakistan of 1956 also provided for such provisions (article 194). In USA economic emergency was declared by President Roosevelt under the authority of the National Industrial Recovery Act, 1930. By declaring emergency Roosevelt adopted New Deal Policy to overcome world wide financial depression.

Distinction between Emergency of War and Emergency of Subversion

  1. Emergency of war is connected with war or external aggression whereas emergency of subversion is connected with any type of internal disturbance within the territory of the state.
  2. Generally emergency of war is declared throughout the country but emergency of subversion may be declared to any part of the territory.
  3. Emergency of war is related to the question of sovereignty of a state because it is declared when the sovereignty of a state is threatened. But emergency of subversion has no relation with the question of sovereignty of a state.
  4. The immediate purpose of emergency of war is to defend the sovereignty and security of the state whereas the purpose of emergency of subversion is to suppress the civil war or anti-government movement.

Double Emergency

Somewhere provisions of double emergency is visible. Emergency is of three kinds which have been discussed earlier. This double emergency is not a class apart. While one type of emergency is in operation declaration of another type of emergency is called double emergency. For example, in India the proclamation of emergency of war made in December, 1971 was still in operation when another proclamation of emergency of subversion was made on 26 June, 1975 on the ground that security of India was threatened by internal disturbances. This double emergency continued for a long time. When Janata Party came to power in March, 1977 replacing the Indian National Congress the emergency of subversion declared in 1975 was withdrawn on March 22, 1977 and the emergency of war was withdrawn on March 27, 1977. The provision of this double emergency was inserted in the constitution by adding clause 9 to article 352.

History of Emergency Power

In Indian Sub-Continent the history of emergency power of the executive traces back to the Government of India Act, 1935. Under article 102 of the Act the Governor-General could declare emergency if in his opinion a grave emergency existed whereby the security of India was threatened whether by war or internal disturbances.’ This provision which is fully alien to the British democratic system was kept candidly as a weapon by the British ruler in India to perpetuate their colonial design. But unfortunately this undemocratic and democracy-destroying provisions continued to have place in the subsequent constitutions in the Sub-Continent although freedom was achieved and countries became independent sovereign states.

Keeping in line with the 1935 Act, the Indian constitution in article 352 provides for emergency provisions to the following effect: “352. Proclamation of Emergency.

(1)  If the President is satisfied that grave emergency exists whereby the security of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or internal disturbance beyond the power of a Provincial Government to control, he may issue a proclamation of emergency.”

Following the same line, the 1956 constitution of Pakistan incorporated this emergency provision in article 191. The 1962 Constitution of Pakistan also contained the same provision.

The experience of the application of the emergency provisions in Pakistan was extremely bitter. In its 23 year long history Pakistan witnessed a series of action taken by the ruling elite or sometimes by one individual in the office of the President under the garb of these emergency provisions.1 The two Governor-Generals of Pakistan Golam Mohammad and Iskandar Mirza used this emergency powers to perpetuate their rule and thereby they destroyed political institutions. The emergency which was proclaimed in 1965 due to war with India was not withdrawn till the mass-upsurge forced Ayub Khan in 1969 to leave power whereas the war was over in three weeks. During this continued emergency the political opposition parties were suppressed and hundreds of citizens were put into prison for years together. Almost all the political leaders of Pakistan particularly the prominent ones in the former East Pakistan were extremely critical of this harsh law. The Awami Leaque in particular, was committed since the formation of the United Front in 1954 to repeal not only the black laws but also to remove any scope or prerogative enabling an individual to retard the process of democracy. The experience of Pakistan showed that whenever such power was enshrined in the constitution, however well intentioned the laws might have been, the tendency to use or in most cases misuse them was overwhelmingly predominant. These authoritarian powers were, therefore, considered contradictory to the concept of nourishing a living democracy.

With these experiences in mind, the Awami League Government did not want to leave any scope for such exercise of power by the president. As a result, in the original constitution of Bangladesh no provision was embodied for any emergency situations. The decision was bold, praise-worthy and conducive to the nourishment of living democracy. But sooner than 9 months had passed provisions for emergency were inserted in the constitution by the Second Amendment to the constitution of Bangladesh by the same party which made the constitution.1