During the Emergency the apex court appeared to be rather pusillanimous as evident from the habeas corpus case. This case, which kept a five-judge bench busy for thirty-seven working days between December 1975 and February 1976, was probably the most important to be heard during the Emergency. The Supreme Court had to decide whether personal liberties needed to be upheld in the face of the executive in the context of the Emergency.
All the judges wrote separate judgments, but the result was that the court upheld the executive’s power to detain people, thereby denying citizens the right to move a habeas corpus petition in a High Court under Article 226 during Emergency rule. The advocates who argued the case, including Shanti Bhushan, Soli Sorabjee, and VN Tarkunde, found the verdict “appalling”. Their assessment is clearly supported by the manner in which judges justified their decision.