Supreme Court on National Anthem :: A comprehensive and comparative study


Naresh Naik, Law Student (Online Intern @LawOF)

Recent days we are able to hear NATIONAL ANTHEM in cinema halls before we used to hear only in schools and in some educational institutions only on Republic Day and Independence Day. What made Supreme Court to bring this change in our society? Yes, exactly this is what the question we have to ask ourselves to know the facts behind this magnificent Judgment. The main argument of the petition was that sometimes the national anthem was sung in diverse circumstances, which are not permissible and can never be countenanced in law. The Supreme Court also clarified the protocols to be followed when the national anthem is played or sung in cinema halls. This order was passed on a writ petition filed under Article 32 of the constitution. As we know, the national anthem was written by India’s first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1911. It is first of five stanzas were adopted as the country’s national anthem in 1950. The last order of the Supreme Court came after the China war in 1962, which stated that the national anthem should be played in cinemas. This practice was discontinued in 1975 because most moviegoers ignored it.

In the recent order, the Bench said it is the duty of every person to show respect when the NATIONAL ANTHEM or played sung under the prevention of insults of NATIONAL HONOUR the ACT of 1971. In India, existing laws do not penalize or mandate any person to stand-up or sing the NATIONAL ANTHEM. The famous case related to national anthem, which caught the attention of public. It was the case of punishing someone for not singing the national anthem. In addition, the punished were three children from KERALA in the case of Bijeo Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala. In this case the expulsion of three children from the school for the reason that their conscientiously held religious faith, they do not join the singing of national anthem in the morning assembly though they do stand-up respectfully when the anthem is sung, is a violation of their fundamental right to freedom of conscience and freely to profess, practice and propagate religion. At that time, the supreme court had observed that there is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the national anthem nor it is disrespectful to the national anthem, is a person who stand up respectfully when the national anthem is sung does not join the singing.

In this regard, clause (a) of Article 51(A), Fundamental Duties occurring in part IV-A of the constitution can be taken as a reference. Article 51A, states that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the constitution and respect its deals and institutions, the national anthem, and the national flag. It is mentioned in the constitution that, it is sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the constitution. One of such ideals is to show respect for national anthem and national flag.

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