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The Maintenance of Internal Security Act 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 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.
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.
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The law was repealed in 1977 following the election of a Janata Party-led government; the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 similarly removed MISA from the 9th Schedule.
Controversial successors to this legislation include the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, criticized for authorizing excessive powers for the aim of fighting internal and cross-border terrorism and political violence, without safeguards for civil freedoms.
Some notable political leaders imprisoned under Maintenance of Internal Security Act:
- Sharad Yadav, India's first MISA impose to him in 1973, he was detained for 7 months in Riva, Jabalpur and Indore jail.
- Lalu Prasad Yadav, who named his eldest daughter 'Misa' in commemoration of the occasion
- Lal Krishna Advani
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee
- Chandra Shekhar
- N.Azu Newmai, the first among Naga politicians to be imprisoned under MISA and released after four and a half months
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