SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ruled that not standing up for the national anthem and not singing it may amount to disrespect and failure to adhere to the fundamental duties but it is not an offence. The court gave the ruling on a writ petition filed by Tawseef Ahmad Bhat, who had challenged the registration of an FIR against him under Section 3 of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act.
“Interestingly and indisputably, mere disrespect to Indian national anthem is not an offence per se. It is only if the conduct of a person amounts to preventing the singing of Indian national anthem or causing disturbance to any assembly engaged in such singing, it entails penal consequences in terms of Section 3 of the Act,” J&K high court judge Justice Sanjeev Kumar ruled in the judgment passed on Friday.
The court ruled that “not standing up while the Indian national anthem is being sung or standing up but not singing the national anthem along with members of the assembly engaged in such singing may amount to disrespect to the national anthem and a failure to adhere to a fundamental duties enumerated in Part IVA of the Constitution of India but is not an offence as defined under Section 3 of the Act.”
The police registered the case against Bhat in September 2018 for allegedly dishonouring the national anthem at a function held to celebrate Indian surgical strike when he was working as a lecturer in the Government Degree College, Bani, on a contractual basis.
While challenging the FIR, Bhat contended that the allegations did not constitute an offence under Section 3 of the Act as there was no proof that he prevented the singing of the national anthem or caused any disturbance to any assembly engaged in such singing.
“Failure of the petitioner to participate in the assembly engaged in singing of national anthem, intentionally or otherwise, and roaming about in the school premises where the assembly was engaged in singing national anthem, in my opinion, would not amount to either preventing the singing of national anthem or causing any disturbance to the assembly engaged in such singing,” Justice Kumar ruled.