'Vande Mataram' has special place, but can't be on par with 'Jana Gana': Centre to Delhi High Court

The Centre's response came on a PIL seeking equal status for the national song 'Vande Mataram' written by poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.
Delhi High Court. | PTI File Photo
Delhi High Court. | PTI File Photo

NEW DELHI: 'Vande Mataram' occupies a "unique and special place" in the psyche of Indians but it cannot be treated on par with national anthem 'Jana Gana Mana' penned by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the Centre today told the Delhi High Court.

The Centre's response came on a PIL seeking equal status for the national song 'Vande Mataram' written by poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.

Seeking dismissal of the PIL, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal that the plea that 'Vande Mataram' be treated on par with 'Jana Gana Mana' cannot be accepted.

"While being the authoritative symbols of Indian states, the national flag and the anthem, equally loved and respected, need codification.

"'Vande Mataram' occupies a unique and special place in the emotions and psyche of the people of India, that requires no formal support or codification," MHA said in its recent affidavit.

It said the legal protection is not the only way to ensure that creative work is respected.

"Protection under the law is not only the way to show respect to creative work. Billions of Indians have the deepest respect and unabiding faith in Ramcharitmanas and the Mahabharat...

"A nation has only one flag and one anthem, that does not mean that any less respect is meant to other song or prayers, or that the citizens are prevented from loving, respecting, singing and being emotionally attached to other songs, books or symbols," the affidavit said.

The affidavit was filed in response to the PIL of Gautam R Morarka, who had sought directions to the Centre to ensure proper dignity and respect for 'Vande Mataram' as well.

The PIL has also sought a direction to amend the National Honour Act, 1971 accordingly to ensure equal respect for 'Vande Mataram'.

MHA said that on the petitioner's representation and subsequent PIL, it had set up a committee which held its meeting on March 29, 2016, and recommended status quo in this regard.

It was hoped by the panel that every citizen would remember the historic role of 'Vande Mataram' in the freedom struggle and show due respect to it whenever it is played or sung, it said.

"It has become synonymous with valour, dedication and love for one's motherland and does not require any crutches to hold it (the song) in the heads and hearts of India's citizenry," the MHA said.

Morarka, a Delhi resident, said even in 1950, the then President of India had said that 'Vande Mataram' shall be honoured equally with 'Jana Gana Mana'.

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