Flag-wavers, beware! Wearing the Tricolour as a cloth or under the waist as a skirt so that it touches the ground in a public place is an offence punishable with a prison sentence of three years or fine or both.
As per a missive sent from the ministry of home affairs' office in response to a representation sent by Amritsar-based advocate and RTI activist PC Sharma, insult to the national flag is punishable under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act, 1971.
The letter from the ministry of home affairs' office dated March 5 states that the use, display, hoisting of the national flag is regulated by Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and Flag Code of India, 2002, which are available on the ministry's website www.mha.nic.in. The letter states that the complaint regarding insult to national flag may be lodged at the nearest police station where the incident has occurred.
Consequently, the Amritsar rural police have booked an unidentified woman under Section 2 of the Act. The case has been registered at Gharinda police station on the complaint Sharma, who said the accused had wrapped herself in the national flag and was performing dance at the Attari border during the retreat ceremony, causing insult to the Tricolour.
"Draping the national flag around the shoulders or under the waist amounts to insult to it," Sharma said, adding that he was pained at the insult meted out to the national flag and after witnessing such scenes at the border often, he had written to the Centre in September 2014, and demanded the registration of a case against the accused. ASI Pargat Singh said the matter was being investigated.
However, the results were not quite encouraging and it took several exchanges of letters with the senior officials at the Centre and the Punjab Police to get the case registered, which was finally done on Sunday. Despite repeated attempts, SSP Amritsar rural Jasdeep Singh could not be contacted.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued earlier, Amritsar deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat had said that insult to the national flag by burning a part of it in a public place or polluting it in any way was punishable with imprisonment of three years, fine or both.
He said that last month, instructions regarding ensuring the honour of the national flag were sent by the government and the BSF was also asked to display these at the border. "The instructions proscribe wearing the national flag as a cloth or throwing it on the ground or wrapping it around something, besides other instructions," the DC said.