The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for not giving any information on the certifications of Jana Gana Mana as our national anthem and Vande Mataram as national song, raising doubts whether the Union government has any records about the two songs.
Deciding on appeal of a Gurgaon-based RTI activist, the commission has directed the PMO to initiate fresh efforts to find out the historical facts about Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram, and the status accorded to them to place facts before the nation to dispel widespread misnomers about them in larger public interest.
The CIC stated that the PMO’s response of not giving information was not proper and legal, and it breached the right to information of people. The decision states that it was imperative for the GoI, especially PMO and MoEF to gather the historical evidence to explain the significance of the national anthem, national song, national animal, bird and flower, besides the national game.
“If such information is authentically collected, researched and presented, it will go a long way to restore people’s respect towards this ‘nationalism’ and to remove the misnomers. This will instil real patriotism," the judgement stated.
The Supreme Court had recently made it imperative to honour the national anthem, making it a punishable offence for not standing when it is played in movie theatres. However, the CIC, tracing several media reports and information on social media, noted that there was misunderstanding among the people about Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram, and the nation needed authentic information about their national song and national anthem.
“Before punishing the people for not standing/respecting the national anthem, they should be informed of its greatness,” the judgement given by M Sridhar Acharyulu, CIC, said.
The information commissioner also said there was spurt of transfers of the RTI applications, reflecting red tapism, shirking and washing off hands from responsibility, “which are biggest obstructions to the access of information.” The commission also directed MoEF to give complete information about national status accorded to animal, bird and flower within two months to the appellant.