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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 Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the Indian general election, 1977 and Janata Party came to power.[1][2]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The law was repealed in 1977 following the election of a Janata Party-led government; the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 similarly removed MISA from the 9th Schedule.[3]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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Sat, 04 Jul 2015 20:45:00 -0700

AFSPA, as a precursor to Maintenance of Internal Security Act, was used extensively before and during the Emergency. These Acts protect individuals representing the state when they commit murder. And they facilitate detaining, harassing and killing ...

The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:30:54 -0700

An external emergency was in place since the time of the 1971 war. During the 1974 JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) movement, many were arrested under the Defence of India Rules and the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, but there was mass support for the ...

The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:33:45 -0700

The Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971, was amended through presidential ordinance. After the amendment, a person arrested under Misa did not need to be told the reason for their detention. The authority executing the arrest only needed to ...

Hindustan Times

The Indian Express
Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:31:08 -0700

The Emergency wouldn't really have mattered to a 10-year-old boy like me in 1975, but for my father's arrest under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (Misa) in the early hours of June 26. He was a senior Jana Sangh leader in Andhra Pradesh and, ...

The Indian Express

The Economist
Thu, 25 Jun 2015 02:45:19 -0700

... other constitutionally protected rights; rules for press censorship which made hostages of foreign correspondents working in India and puppets or mutes of local journalists; a modification of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act to remove a ...

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times
Sat, 27 Jun 2015 11:11:15 -0700

The cold facts of the Emergency are chilling: 34,988 people were detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act whilst 75,818 were held under the Defence of India rules; virtually the entire opposition leadership was arrested; the press ...


Fri, 03 Jul 2015 02:30:06 -0700

Arbitrary jailing under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (Misa) was very bad because the victims were leaders. Arbitrary jailing under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act and Gujarat Control of ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:01:33 -0700

... Akhilesh Yadav, has said that a statutory provision would be made to ensure that pension and other benefits of “Loktantra Senanis” (those who were arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act and Defence of India Rules during the ...

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