Amid the raging debate on nationalism and complaints about insult to the national anthem and flag, the Centre has asked the states to ensure “strict compliance” of the relevant violations that attract three years’ imprisonment.
In a communication to all states and union territories, the home ministry said it has received complaints from various quarters about disrespect being shown to the national anthem and flag and asked them to ensure their honour is protected.
A copy each of ‘The Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act 1971’ and ‘Flag Code of India, 2002’ are enclosed to the letter to the states and UTs asking them to ensure “strict compliance of the provisions contained in the Act and the Flag Code”.
The offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years or fine or both.
The central government’s missive came amid the contentious debate on nationalism that was triggered by an event at the Jawaharlal Nehru University to commemorate the hanging of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru.
“The National Anthem of India is played or sung on various occasions. Instructions have been issued from time to time about the correct versions of the anthem, the occasions on which these are to be played or sung and about the need for paying respect to the anthem by observance of proper decorum on such occasions,” the communication said.
The full version of the anthem and its playing time is approximately 52 seconds while a short version consisting of the first and last lines of the national anthem is also played on certain occasions. Playing time for the short version is about 20 seconds.
Referring to the national flag, the home ministry letter said its attention has been drawn to the national flag made of plastic being used in place of paper flags at important events.
Since plastic flags are not biodegradable like the paper flags, these do not get decomposed for a long time and are harmful to the environment.
Further, ensuring appropriate disposal of national flags made of plastic with the dignity is a problem.
“It may also be noted that as per Section 2 of ‘The Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act 1971’, whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written or by acts) the Indian national flag or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or fine, or with both,” it said.