It's A Flagrant Violation
By Kanu Sarda | Published: 09th February 2014 08:52 AM |
It seems that the guardians of our democracy—the political establishments—are at fault while using the national flag. The rampant misuse of the tricolour in various political rallies, dharnas, public meetings and protests has forced the Allahabad High Court to issue directions to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to ensure strict compliance of the Flag Code of India.
On Friday, the Supreme Court served notices on the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to restrain the political parties from using party flags resembling and similar to the tricolour.
The PIL stated the Congress was using a “colourable imitation” of the national flag with the only difference being the hand symbol in place of the Ashok Chakra. Similarly, in case of the NCP and TMC, it said the parties were using watch, and flowers and grass respectively in place of the Ashok Chakra.
The Allahabad High Court, which also acted on a PIL, sought that necessary directions should be issued for not allowing the use of the national flag in rallies and protests of political parties as the flag is not being given respect in such places or occasions.
The high court bench of Justices Imtiyaz Murtaza and Devender Kumar Upadhyaya said, “Needless to say that to preserve the honour and respect attached to the national flag, it is the bounden duty of the authorities concerned to ensure strict compliance and observance of the provisions of the Flag Code of India.”
In the PIL, petitioner Pratap Chandra stated that in political parties, the Flag Code of Conduct, 1950, is not complied with strictly and any violation of this act should be punishable under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
The flag code specifically prohibits the use of the national flag for commercial purpose in violation of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. It also clearly envisages that the flag shall not be dipped in salute to any person or thing and further that the flag shall not be flown at half mast except on occasions on which the flag is flown at half mast on public buildings in accordance with the instructions issued by the government.
“It is the bounden duty of the state authorities to ensure that the national flag is used only in proper manner and in accordance with the provisions contained in the Flag Code of India. We hope and expect the strict compliance be ensured by the Union of India,” the bench observed in an order passed on January 30.
Private use of the national flag was allowed by the Supreme Court in 2002 on a petition filed by industrialist and Member of Parliament Naveen Jindal who fought a decade-long legal battle on behalf of the people of India to give them the right to hoist the tricolour publicly. The SC passed a judgment allowing every citizen to fly the national flag with respect, dignity and honour, thus making it a fundamental right.
According to the code of conduct, allowing the flag to touch the ground intentionally or draping the flag over the hood, top, and train, boat or an aircraft or any other similar object is a crime punishable up to one year of imprisonment.
Also, the flag should not be used as a festoon, rosette or bunting for decoration. The flag made of paper may be waved by public on occasions of important national, cultural and sports events.