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Attacking national icons to defend tricolour

Bhopal-based lawyer RK Pandey has filed over a dozen cases against who’s who of India, including Sania Mirza, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, for showing disrespect to the national flag, reports Satya Prakash. Cake row | Here everything shocks| Sania shocks: see video

india Updated: Feb 07, 2008 17:44 IST
Satya Prakash

Sania Mirza has decided to boycott tournaments in India because she was tired of being dragged into controversy after controversy. The latest was her being taken to court for allegedly insulting the national flag.

The man who filed the complaint against Sania is a Bhopal-based lawyer, RK Pandey.<b1>

Pandey, also called the “flag advocate”, has filed similar cases against several other celebrities, including Sachin Tendulkar (remember the tricolour cake-cutting fracas?), Mahendra Singh Dhoni, yoga guru Ramdev, TV anchor Mandira Bedi, actress Sharmila Tagore, painter MF Hussain and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The latest to be dragged to court is Hamid Kazi, an MLA from Barhanpur in Madhya Pradesh.

Asked whether he does it for the publicity, Pandey told HT from Bhopal: “No, it’s not for cheap publicity. I have filed all these cases on behalf of my clients. I am not the complainant in these cases. What’s wrong in it? It will make people aware about how they should respect our national flag.”

“Celebrities don’t have licence to violate the law. If they do, they should be brought to book like any ordinary citizen. The law is equal for all — a celebrity or a common man,” said Pandey, who has filed over a 100 PILs.

The 40-year-old lawyer said it wasn’t easy to file such cases. “I have meticulously studied the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and the Criminal Procedure Code. I can file a case in Bhopal against a person showing disrespect to our national tricolour in the US,” he said, adding that section 179 of the Code of Criminal Procedure allowed this.

“It’s about when and where I come to know of the violation,” he said. “The jurisdiction is decided accordingly.”

Tendulkar, for instance, cut the controversial cake in the Caribbean but the case was held to be maintainable in Bhopal. The magistrate’s court dismissed the case but the sessions court restored it, he said. He also boasts of his case against Husain for his controversial ‘Bharatmata’ painting.