No concept of National Song in Constitution, says SC
There is no concept of a national song, the Supreme Court said on Friday, declining to entertain a plea to direct the Centre to frame a national policy to promote Vande Mataram.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said Article 51A (fundamental duties) of the Constitution requires to promote and propogate the National Anthem and the National Flag.
“The Article does not refer to National Song. It only refers to National Flag and National Anthem. Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned,” said the bench, rejecting the prayer of petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, a BJP spokesperson.
Upadhyay had said India is a Union of States and not an association or confederation of states.
His plea to make reciting the National Anthem compulsory in offices, courts and legislative houses and Parliament was also declined.
But the bench agreed to hear the petitioner’s prayer to make it mandatory for schools to play or sing the National Anthem on working days.
The Narendra Modi government has already asked the SC to revisit its 1986 judgement which ruled that singing of the National Anthem was not mandatory.
It had exempted three children, who belonged to the Jehovah’s Witness sect, from singing the anthem at their school. Forcing the children to sing the anthem violated their fundamental right to religion, the court had said.
“Patriotism must be inculcated in kids. It cannot be done in adults. So, singing the National Anthem in schools… as a part of the curriculum, must be made compulsory,” the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, told the court, which fixed April 18 to hear his argument at length.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a film society, which challenged its November 30 order asking all cinemas to play Jana Gana Mana and the audience to stand up to show respect to the 52-second anthem.
Nationalism had to be instilled and it should start from childhood, Rohatgi said, opposing the recall plea.
“Compulsion to stand and sing (the National Anthem) as a part of the school curriculum is required to be debated,” he said.