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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 Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the Indian general election, 1977 and Janata Party came to power.[1][2]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The law was repealed in 1977 following the election of a Janata Party-led government; the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 similarly removed MISA from the 9th Schedule.[3]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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166 news items

The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Fri, 07 Aug 2015 12:07:30 -0700

August 8, Forty Years Ago: Above The Law. Among the Central acts included were the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1973 and the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971.

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 08:22:30 -0700

As per the record, they were lodged under Section 3(1) (A) (II) of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), 1971. Devi Lal and LK Advani were later shifted to Mahendergarh and Bangalore jails. However, Haryana government officials are not sure ...

The Statesman

The Statesman
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 17:19:41 -0700

Sharpened during the Emergency with the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, the powers were misused with impunity. The 44th Amendment strengthened Article 22, specially introduced by BR Ambedkar to strengthen Article 21 on protection to life and ...

Mumbai Mirror

Mumbai Mirror
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 11:33:45 -0700

She's famous for her name, given to her by her father who was in jail during the Emergency under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). The political nomenclature of 1977 is a matter of pride for her. She's the product of ...
Sat, 15 Aug 2015 00:41:15 -0700

Sharpened during the Emergency with the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), these powers were misused and abused with impunity. The Fortyfourth Amendment rightly strengthened Article 22 further, which was specially brought in by Dr Ambedkar ...

Hindu Business Line

Hindu Business Line
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 09:07:30 -0700

Acronyms such as MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act), FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act), COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act), DIR (Defence of India Rules) became well known; Lalu ...
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 ...

The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:56:33 -0700

On night of June 25-25, hundreds arrested under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). Police wake up JP in middle of the night; he makes his famous comment 'Vinaash kaale vipreet buddhi'.

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