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The Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) was a controversial law passed by the Indian parliament in 1971 giving the administration of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Indian law enforcement agencies super powers - indefinite preventive detention of individuals, search and seizure of property without warrants, and wiretapping - in the quelling of civil and political disorder in India, as well as countering foreign-inspired sabotage, terrorism, subterfuge and threats to national security. The law was amended several times during national emergency (1975-1977) and used for quelling political dissent. Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the Indian general election, 1977 and Janata Party came to power.[1][2]


It was enacted on July 2, 1971, and replaced by the previous ordinance, "Maintenance of Internal Security Ordinance" promulgated by the President of India on May 7, 1971. The act was based on Preventive Detention Act of 1950 (PDA), enacted for a period of a year, before it was extended till December 31, 1969.[3]

The legislation gained infamy for its disregard of legal and constitutional safeguards of civil rights, especially when "going all the way down" on the competition, and during the period of national emergency (1975-1977) as thousands of innocent people were believed to have been arbitrarily arrested, tortured and in some cases, forcibly sterilized.[4][5]

The legislation was also invoked to justify the arrest of Indira Gandhi's political opponents, including the leaders and activists of the opposition Janata Party. In all, during the emergency period of 1975-1977, some 1,00,000 people, which included journalists, scholars, activists and opposition politicians were detained without trial for a period of up to eighteen months. Some people were even detained for opposing forced sterilization drives or demolition of slums carried out during this period.[2]

The 39th Amendment to the Constitution of India placed MISA in the 9th Schedule to the Constitution, thereby making it totally immune from any judicial review; even on the grounds that it contravened the Fundamental Rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution, or violated the Basic Structure.

The law was repealed in 1977 following the election of a Janata Party-led government; the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 similarly removed MISA from the 9th Schedule.[3]

However, others coercive legislations like Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA, 1968), and economic counterpart of the act, Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) enacted on December 13, 1974 to prevent smuggling and black-marketing in foreign exchange is still enforce.[3] Controversial successors to such legislations include the National Security Act (1980), Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA, 1985-1995), and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA, 2002), criticized for authorizing excessive powers for the aim of fighting internal and cross-border terrorism and political violence, without safeguards for civil freedoms.[3][6]


In the non-Indian National Congress ruled states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,[7][8] people detained under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and Defence of India Act (DIR) during the 1975-77 national emergency, get Rs. 15000 pension per month from respective state governments. In 2014, Rajasthan government restarted its pension scheme of Rs. 12000 per month for 800 enlisted former detainees, first launched under Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's first term in 2008. The scheme was discontinued in 2009, by Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government.[7][9]


Some notable political leaders imprisoned under Maintenance of Internal Security Act:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ USA., International Business Publications, (1 May 2001). India: Foreign Policy & Government Guide. Int'l Business Publications. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-7397-8298-9. 
  2. ^ a b Ganguly, Sumit; Diamond, Larry; Plattner, Marc F. (13 August 2007). The State of India's Democracy. JHU Press. pp. 130–. ISBN 978-0-8018-8791-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d Harding, Andrew; Hatchard, John (1993). Preventive Detention and Security Law: A Comparative Survey. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 61–. ISBN 0-7923-2432-3. 
  4. ^ Saxena, Priti (1 January 2007). Preventive Detention and Human Rights. Deep & Deep Publications. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-81-7629-992-3. 
  5. ^ Current Trends in Indian Politics. Deep & Deep Publications. 1 January 1998. pp. 115–. ISBN 978-81-7100-798-1. 
  6. ^ Singh, Ujjwal Kumar (6 January 2009). Human Rights and Peace: Ideas, Laws, Institutions and Movements. SAGE Publications. pp. 246–. ISBN 978-81-7829-884-9. 
  7. ^ a b "Raje re-launches pension scheme for MISA and DIR detainees". The Hindu. March 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  8. ^ "Misa detainees to get monthly pension in Chhattisgarh". The Telegraph. May 24, 2008. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  9. ^ "Monthly pension to detainees under Maintenance of Internal Security Act". The Times of India. January 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maintenance_of_Internal_Security_Act — Please support Wikipedia.
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112 news items

ABP News

ABP News
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:45:00 -0700

MISA, which stood for Maintenance of Internal Security Act was dreaded by everyone during the emergency. Nayantara later wrote that Shukla had told her mother Vijayalaxmi Pandit “with a concealed sense of satisfaction” that Nayantara would not able to ...
The Hindu
Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:00:00 -0700

The Government has also decided to increase the pension (“sammaan raashi” ) to the MISA ( Maintenance of Internal Security Act ) and DIFR (Defence of India Rules) detenu during the Emergency ( June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977 ) by Rs. 4,000. They will ...
The Hans India
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 10:15:00 -0700

However, most draconian laws of preventive detention have mustered judicial review in the past. The Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the likes have been viewed from contemporary lenses of social needs ...


Times of India
Fri, 03 Jan 2014 11:43:33 -0800

JAIPUR: The Vasundhara Raje government on Friday announced revival of pension scheme for those detained in the state under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency. At the end of her first term in 2008, chief minister ...

indiatvnews.com (press release) (blog)

indiatvnews.com (press release) (blog)
Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:41:15 -0800

He was detained at Naini Central Jail under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) at the age of 17 during the Emergency in 1975. Naqvi had been a student leader and participated in the JP Movement. He has been actively involved and associated ...
The Hindu
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:47:11 -0800

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the newly elected State secretary of the party, came of age as a political activist during the Emergency days, undergoing imprisonment for 16 months under the dreaded Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). Alongside him are ...


Sat, 21 Feb 2015 02:41:15 -0800

The National Security Act (NSA), subsequently enacted in 1980, essentially replaced the earlier Maintenance of Internal Security Act and deals only with preventive detention. Therefore, a new chapter needs to be added to the NSA incorporating relevant ...


Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:01:26 -0800

The young leaders were among the 27 political activists detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act in a single day. The firebrand Vijayan was beaten to pulp and Balakrishnan, the youngest of the lot, was assigned to look after him in the jail.

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