Respecting our National Anthem…

In the light of recent Supreme Court judgment on playing National Anthem in Cinema halls before screening a movie lead to lot of discussions and debates on the topic. The issue came before the Honourable Supreme Court to decide was that, sometimes National Anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible and can never be countenanced in law.

The emphasis is on showing requisite and necessary respect when the National Anthem is sung or played. The assertion is that it is the duty of every person to show respect when the National Anthem is played or recited or sung. Is it so? Is there a duty or an emphasis on the citizens of India to respect the Indian National Anthem? Let’s have a look…!

What Indian Constitution says…?

As we know, the Constitution of India; the law of the land guarantees certain fundamental right to its citizens. Similarly, it also imposes certain fundamental duties to its citizen under Article 51A. Accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its Ideals and Institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971

By virtue of Section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

From the aforesaid, it is clear as crystal that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution, and one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag.

In this era, where the people are living more in the social media than in the actual society, there are Lacs and Lacs of people to advocate for the right to freedom of speech and expression and they argue that, the freedom of speech and expression give them a liberty not to stand while the National Anthem is sung. However, I disagree with that ideology.

Let me draw your attention to the famous National Anthem case of Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors v. State of Kerala & Ors (1987 AIR 748), where the Honourable Supreme Court observed that;

There is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor is it disrespectful to the National Anthem if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung does not join the singing. Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung. It will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing. Standing up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung but not singing oneself clearly does not either prevent the singing of the National Anthem or cause disturbance to an assembly engaged in such singing so as to constitute the offence mentioned in s. 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.

Now coming back to the latest Supreme Court (Interim) Judgment in Shyam Narayan Chouksey V. Union of India, WP (C) 855/2016, where the directions are issued the National Anthem playing in the Cinema halls, it is very clear that, nowhere the Court is asking the people to sing the National Anthem. Court is only directing to stand up and show respect to National Anthem.

While witnessing various discussions and debates going on in the Social Media as well as other Television Channels, I’m of the opinion that, today majority of people are looking issues only in the political angle, and even the media wants to project issues of political importance so as to increase their TRP Rating.

These instances are leading to a conclusion that, we are losing a patriotic society, and majority of the today’s society will become patriotic by sharing patriotic messages on Social Media on the occasion of Republic Day OR Independence Day OR if India is playing any international match against Pakistan OR any such major sporting events.

In the given circumstances, I’m of the opinion that, we are losing a value based society where even the inherent concepts of National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism are getting vanished. What is the solution? For national integration, the basis must be the schools and the education system existing in our country.

Therefore, necessary actions to be taken to improve the environment created in the school to develop the right kind of patriotisms in the children. Neither religion nor party nor anything of this kind should stand against one’s love of the country.

Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individually thought of have no space.

Thus, I’m of the opinion that, the directions of the Honourable Supreme Court came at the right time.


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