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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Status: Repealed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 Finally it was repealed in 1977, when Indira Gandhi lost the Indian general election, 1977 and Janata Party came to power.[1]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The law was repealed in 1977 following the election of a Janata Party-led government; the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 similarly removed MISA from the 9th Schedule.[2]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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329 news items

Business Standard (press release) (registration) (blog)
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 08:41:15 -0800

... journalism at the eighth edition of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Excellence awards for years 2013 and 2014. Nayar is former editor of the Indian Express. During Emergency he was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for ...

Financial Express

The Statesman
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 09:15:00 -0800

During Emergency he was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for leading a protest against the excesses of the administration. At a glittering ceremony attended by leading lights from diverse fields, Information and Broadcasting ...
Times of India
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 11:00:54 -0800

Misa, who derives her name from dreaded Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) under which her father Lalu was jailed by the then Congress government during Emergency in 1970s, lost her maiden poll battle from Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat in 2014.


Thu, 26 Nov 2015 03:48:45 -0800

1. Michael Keating to be the new Special Representative for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. (i) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Michael Keating (UK) as the new Special Representative for Somalia and head of the ...

Punjab Star news

Punjab Star news
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 01:56:15 -0800

Janata Dal leader Nitish Kumar will be sworn-in as Chief Minister of Bihar for fifth time. After his party's disastrous performance in the last Lok Sabha elections, he joined hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad Yadav, providing a maj…


Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:42:01 -0800

To examine claims in this category, the Haryana government considered arrests made under three laws – the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, the Defence of India Act, and sections 107 & 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which relate to arrests ...

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times
Fri, 06 Nov 2015 11:56:47 -0800

The fights continued and in 1975, eight youth from Tilak Nagar were booked under the controversial Maintenance of Internal Security Act (Misa), among them Chhota Rajan. “The boys went to jail for two years and came back hardened criminals after they ...


Sat, 31 Oct 2015 14:34:31 -0700

Indira Gandhi responded to this call by declaring the strike illegal under the provisions of the “Defence of India Rules”, inherited from the colonial days. Strike activists were arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. The strike ...

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