The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Friday stayed a single-bench order directing the state government to hoist the state flag on official buildings and put it up on flagpoles of vehicles carrying constitutional authorities.
The order came after former top cop and senior BJP leader Farooq Khan challenged the court’s ruling on December 27, upholding a government circular that asked all constitutional authorities to hoist the state flag atop official buildings and vehicles.
A division bench of Justices BL Bhat and Tashi Rabstan stayed the order after hearing Khan’s petition that argued the national flag is supreme and it can’t be treated on a par with the state flag.
The state government’s circular in March 2015 — that directed hoisting of the state flag alongside the Tricolour — was withdrawn after protests by the BJP.
The development triggered a political storm with former chief minister Omar Abdullah attacking his successor, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed of the Peoples Democratic Party, saying he should step down and find someone who can defend the state’s dignity and flag from “nefarious” plans of coalition partner BJP.
The BJP has been pushing an “ek vidhan, ek nishan, ek pradhan” (one Constitution, one flag, one leader) formula for the militancy-hit state that is governed and protected by a special provision in the Constitution.
The high court earlier ruled that Article 370 cannot be repealed or abrogated and called for hoisting state flags on all government buildings and vehicles. It said anybody contravening or going against the stated constitutional position on the state flag would invite action under law.
Protests erupted in Jammu after the Panther’s Party took to the streets, demanding answers from the BJP over the judgment.
The Jammu and Kashmir flag is rectangular and red in colour with three equidistant white vertical stripes of equal width next to the staff and a white plough in the middle with a handle facing the bands.
Section 144 of the Jammu and Kashmir constitution made it obligatory to hoist the state flag along with the national standard on all government buildings having offices of constitutional authorities.
Reiterating that Jammu and Kashmir is the only state that has its own flag adopted by its constituent assembly and provided in its constitution, the court said: “The state flag is one of the attributes of constitutional autonomy or limited or residual sovereignty, by whatever name we call it, enjoyed by the state.”
(with agency inputs)