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Q. What is ‘Martial Law’ ? What are the provisions of the with respect to ‘Martial Law’?

Ans. In literal sense, ‘Martial Law’ refers to military administration, in other words, the Martial Law refers to a condition where civil administration is run by the members of Armed Forces on the basis of their own rules and regulations. There are no specific provisions with respect to the grounds of imposing Martial Law and its administrative scope. The Supreme Court in the case of A.D.M. Jabalpur Vs. S. K. Shukla  (1976) held that no provision of the constitution specifically authorizes the Chief Executive to impose ‘Martial Law’; yet it is implied from Article 34 that ‘Martial Law’ can be imposed in some conditions. In this case, the court has distinguished between the declaration of National Emergency under Article 352 by the President and the declaration of imposition of Martial Law under the provisions of Article 34. The declaration of National Emergency has countrywide effect under Article 359 whereas Martial Law is imposed in some specific area or part of the country. In specific situations, under the Martial Law, the Military courts can decide on the criminal disputes arising among the citizens but it cannot happen with respect to National Emergency under Article 352.
As per the provisions of Article 34, when the Martial Law is imposed in some area of the country, 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 such area or validate any sentence passed punishment inflicted, forfeiture ordered or other act done under Martial Law in such area.
Generally, in view of the above provision the Fundamental Rights are violated and their operation is suspended during Martial Law, yet in
A. D. M. Jabalpur Vs. S. K. Shukia case, the Supreme Court held that the writ of Habeas corpus is not automatically suspended during the force of Martial Law.


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