141C. (1) While a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, the President may, 2[ on the written advice of the Prime Minister, by order], declare that the right to move any court for the enforcement of such of the rights conferred by Part III of this Constitution as may be specified in the order, and all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the right so specified, shall remain suspended for the period during which the Proclamation is in force or for such shorter period as may be specified in the order.

(2) An order made under this article may extend to the whole of Bangladesh or any part thereof.

(3) Every order made under this article shall, as soon as may be, be laid before Parliament.]

There are some special provision in the Bangladesh constitution that is emergency under Article 141 of the Bangladesh construction. President can declare for emergency on the grounds of external aggression or internal disturbance.

What is Emergency

These provisions in the constitutions of some countries but nowhere it is exactly defined what emergency is. Normally emergency means an unexpected occurrence” requiring immediate action.  In Bhagat Singh V. King-Emperor Lord Dunedin said, “a state of emergency is something that does not permit of any exact definition. It connQtes a state of matters calling for drastic action.”1 Stiphen P. Marks says that emergency is a situation which results from temporary condition, which place institutions of the state in a precarious position, which leads the authorities to feel justified suspending the application of certain principles.    Strictly speaking, the concept of emergency, from the view point of constitutional law, means the suspension of and restrication over certain fundamental rights of citizens in order to deal with a situation when the security of the state is threatened or the national interest is in peril. From the Bangladesh constitutional point of view, emergency means the existence of a condition whereby the security or economic life of Bangladesh or any part thereof is threatened by war or external aggression or internal disturbance.

Need for Emergency Provisions

Providing for emergency provisions in the constitution is not an undemocratic something. Because the security of the state as a whole is of greater importance than the liberty of some individuals. The state itself is destroyed or in great peril the liberties of the individual citizens stands annihilated. As Shukia V.N. says—

“Events may take place threatening the very existence of the state, and if there are no safeguards, against such eventualities, the state together with all that is desired to remain basic and immutable, will be swept away.”

It was also held in R. V. 1-lailiday,—

‘However precious the personal liberty of the subject may be, there is something for which it may well be, to some extent, sacrificed by legal enactment, namely national success in the war, or escape from national plunder or enslavement.”

The idea of suspension of some fundamental rights in time of erthrgency is common to all legal systems. Somewhere the constitution itself and somewhere a special law makes provisions in legal terms for situations of crisis when states of emergency may be invoked.

The necessity for suspension of certain rights in times of emergency is internationally recognised. Almost all regional and international instruments of human rights make provisions for suspension of rights in cases of emergency. Article 4(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, article 15 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950 and article 27 of the American Convention on Human Rights, 1969 make, more or less, the same provision to the effect that in time of war, public danger, or other emergency that threatens the independence or security of a state party, it may take measures derogating from its obligation under the convention.

Thus providing for emergency measures suspending sonic fundamental rights is allowed both nationally and internationally. But the problem is that there is a danger in investing such discretionary power with the executive authority. Because such a provision carries with it the risk of abuse of power if stern safeguards against its abuse are not provided for specifically. Most governments in developing countries abuse emergency power for political purpose; they use it as a necessary weapon to suppress the opposition and to perpetuate power; they thereby destroy the democratic institutions. The Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists in his introduction on an ICJ report on States of Emergency opined that the most serious human rights violations tend to occur in situations of tension when those in power are or think they are threatened by forces which challenge their authority if not the established order of the society. This is why he thinks that there is an understandable link between cas of grave violations of human rights and state of emergency.