In the 1971 elections Raj Narain stood against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her constituency of Rae Bareili in the state of U.P. Raj Narain lost with a huge margin. He brought out an election petition against Indira Gandhi alleging that she won the election by flouting the election laws. The suit was instituted against her in the Allahabad High Court. Raj Narain’s primary contention was that Indira Gandhi had infringed the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 during her campaign as she had been assisted by a Gazetted government officer who was on duty – Yashpal Kapur, the police, the armed forces, used government vehicles, exceeded the prescribed limit on campaign expenditure and had also distributed liquor and clothing to the voters in the constituency.
Hearing of the case began on 15 July 1971 before Justice B.N. Lokur, who rejected Raj Narain’s request of the prime minister being called to depose before the court and also for certain government documents be placed before the court so as the court could take cognizance of them. Raj Narain did not admit defeat and moved the Supreme Court where a 3-judge bench heard his request and allowed the appeal. The case proceeded in the Allahabad High court until 1974 when Mrs. Gandhi filed an appeal in the Supreme Court requesting “privilege” for not having to produce the “blue book” (Rules and Instructions for the Protection of Prime Minister when on Tour or in Travel) in the court as evidence. A bench of five Supreme Court judges allowed her appeal setting aside the order of the High Court demanding the production of the Blue Book, and directed the case to the High Court this time to be heard by a single judge, Justice J.L.Sinha.
The case was heard accordingly and the verdict was delivered on the 12th of June 1975 charging the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to be guilty of corrupt practice for having used the government officers in her campaign and unseating her from the membership of the Lok Sabha. Justice Sinha also granted the respondent’s a stay for 20 days on the verdict. The events subsequently led to the imposition of emergency in India.