What constitutes disrespect and abuse of national anthem – SC issues notice


In a petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution [W.P. (C) No. 855 of 2016] before the Supreme Court, the petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey sought issue of a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction commanding the Union of India to take appropriate steps to specify what would be constituting disrespect and abuse of the National Anthem, referring to Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. It was stated that sometimes the National Anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible and cannot be legally countenanced regard being had to the national honour. Two examples cited in the petition are as under. On one occasion, during an interview, the National Anthem was played to test the behavioural pattern of the candidate. It is contended that the National Anthem cannot be sung or played by way of surprise. The other example that has been cited is that on certain occasions, the same is played in a variety show to dramatize the whole thing.

On 28.10.2016, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Union of India in this matter and has now kept the matter for hearing on 30.11.2016. This matter was heard by a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy.

Certain suggestions have also been given in the above writ petition to avoid the abuses to the national anthem:

(a) There should be no commercial exploitation to gain financial advantage or any kind of benefit.

(b) There should be no interruption in between till the completion of National Anthem and no abridged version of National Anthem shall be sung at any point of time.

(c) There should not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be sung in an entertainment programme.

(d) It should not be sung before the people who do not understand it unless they are properly apprised that when the National Anthem of India is to be played, they are required to show respect.

(e) It should not be printed on undesirable objects and should not be displayed in such a manner and at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and may tantamount to disrespect.

The petitioner also sought directions to the effect that the National Anthem should be played in the cinema theatres across the country before the feature film and proper norms and protocol should be fixed with regard to playing or singing of National Anthem in an official function and the functions where certain constitutional dignitaries are present in strict compliance.

About Alabhya Dhamija

Alabhya is an Advocate practicing at Delhi High Court and other courts in Delhi. Contact: alabhya@dhamija.com

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