Article 34 of the Constitution lays down as under:
- Restriction on rights conferred by this Part while martial law is in force in any area.—Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Part, Parliament may by law indemnify any person in the service of the Union or of a State or any other person in respect of any act done by him in connection with the maintenance or restoration of order in any area within the territory of India where martial law was in force or validate any sentence passed, punishment inflicted, forfeiture ordered or other act done under martial law in such area.
What is martial law?
- The expression “martial law” is not defined in the Constitution.
- It appears that the expression “martial law” is used in Article 34 to refer to the condition which arises when there is state of war, insurrection or rebellion in any part of the country. When such situation arises and if it becomes necessary so to do, force necessary in the circumstances may be used to restore order, and this use of force is characterised as martial law.
- Martial law is the action of the military authorities when they impose restrictions and regulations on the civilians, in order to deal with a situation amounting to insurrection or war or rebellion within the country.
- The origin of the power of the military in such a situation is the rule that every citizen, whether a soldier or not, is under a duty to assist in the suppression of insurrection and rebellion, in the maintenance of order and in repelling invaders.
Object of Article 34:
- Since during martial law, there is a state of war, insurrection or rebellion within the country, and force may be used to restore order, it is possible that excesses may be committed while using such force by the military or other security agencies.
- Under normal circumstances, such excesses would not be permissible under the Constitution in the wake of fundamental rights guaranteed under Part 3 of the Constitution, including the guarantee of the right to life and personal liberty being not taken away except according to procedure established by law, which procedure is now also required to be reasonable, just and fair, after the Maneka Gandhi
- It is to take care of such exigencies of martial law that Article 34 has been included in Part 3 of the Constitution itself. It is to indemnify for such acts of excesses committed during martial law.
- The object of Article 34 is not to give authority to impose martial law or to give powers to any authority (military or otherwise) to use force during martial law.
- The object of Article 34 is that if there has already martial law in any part of India, then the Parliament may by law:
- indemnify any person in the service of the Union or of a State or any other person in respect of any act done by him in connection with the maintenance or restoration of order in any area within the territory of India where martial law was in force, or
- validate any sentence passed, punishment inflicted, forfeiture ordered or other act done under martial law in such area.
- Thus, the object of Article 34 is to indemnify for the action already taken during martial law and to validate certain actions taken during martial law.
- As mentioned above, Article 34 does not authorize martial law. It only saves certain actions taken during martial law from the operation of fundamental rights. This becomes clear from the opening words of Article 34 which declare “Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Part”.
- That fundamental rights can be curtailed during martial law, becomes also clear from the heading of Article 34 which states “Restriction on rights conferred by this Part while martial law is in force in any area”.
Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:
This YouTube video is Part 27 of the video series on Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India. It covers Article 34 of the Constitution which deals with Restriction on fundamental rights while martial law is in force in any area.
This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services) for the General Studies, Paper 2, for Indian Polity. This lecture is also useful for those appearing for Judicial Service Examinations in India, as also for law students, and also for aspirants of other competitive examinations.
This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.
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