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Maintenance of Internal Security Act
Status: Repealed

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 Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the Indian general election, 1977 and Janata Party came to power.[1]


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.[2]

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.[3][4]

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.[1]

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The law was repealed in 1977 following the election of a Janata Party-led government; the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 similarly removed MISA from the 9th Schedule.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2][5]


In the non-Indian National Congress ruled states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,[6][7] 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.[6][8]


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Saxena, Priti (1 January 2007). Preventive Detention and Human Rights. Deep & Deep Publications. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-81-7629-992-3. 
  4. ^ Current Trends in Indian Politics. Deep & Deep Publications. 1 January 1998. pp. 115–. ISBN 978-81-7100-798-1. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b "Raje re-launches pension scheme for MISA and DIR detainees". The Hindu. March 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  7. ^ "Misa detainees to get monthly pension in Chhattisgarh". The Telegraph. May 24, 2008. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  8. ^ "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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351 news items

The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:21:21 -0700

The Supreme Court, by a four-to-one judgment, held that during the Emergency no person could move any writ petition for the enforcement of personal liberty on the ground that the detention was illegal or mala fide. The court upheld the objection raised ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 21 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0700

For R. Ramesh, the arrest of some leaders under provisions of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act after their speech at Bharathi Thidal in West Tambaram remains a vivid memory. These places, despite having transformed over the decades, remain ...


Thu, 14 Apr 2016 09:15:15 -0700

Lalu and Rai were jailed together in jail during Emergency under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and so when Lalu got the news of his daughter birth, he asked Rai what should be her name. Rai responded, `Misa'. He is considered to be among ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 12:08:19 -0800

We shouted slogans against the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) in the Mavalankar auditorium. We debated the articles of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) constitution on the lawns of the Gandhi Peace Foundation. We deliberated ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 06:58:14 -0700

Mr. Yechury asked the government to define the term 'national security', reminding Jaitley that, like many others, he too had been arrested in the past under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). Observing that he was “not satisfied” with Mr ...
Times of India
Mon, 28 Mar 2016 23:33:45 -0700

The SP government decided in 2006 to provide pension to political prisoners arrested and jailed under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during Emergency from 1975 to 1977 and were called as Loktantra Senai. More than 6,000 residents of the ...

The Indian Express

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

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. According to the statement of the objects of and the reasons for the bill, “disputes ...

Daily News & Analysis

Daily News & Analysis
Thu, 22 Oct 2015 18:41:15 -0700

Slapped with charges under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and Defence of India Rules (DIR), these prisoners were put behind bars by Indira Gandhi regime for resisting the Emergency during the 21-month period in 1975–77. The government ...

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