More than 45 years ago, the Union Government, led by the then PM Indira Gandhi, imposed Emergency in the country — a period dubbed as the “darkest hours of democracy”. Amid the shadows emerged a story of courage and enforcement of fundamental rights by Justice Rajendra Nath Aggarwal.
The former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court breathed his last this morning. He was 95. Those who know him recall how he strived to prevent the judiciary from submitting to an absolutist government.
Available information suggests journalist Kuldip Nayar was arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act — an action challenged by his wife before the Delhi HC.
The matter was placed before the Bench of Justice S Rangarajan and Justice Aggarwal. It ordered his release, making it clear that the right to a writ of habeas corpus had not been suspended. Both judges were “punished”. Justice Rangarajan was transferred to Sikkim and Justice Aggarwal’s term as an Additional Judge was not extended.
Post Emergency, Justice Aggarwal was elevated to the Delhi HC and his seniority was restored.