Shyam Narayan Chouksey vs Union of India & Others

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Questions related to the Respect and Disresrespect of National Anthem and Flag?

INTRODUCTION

Shyam Narayan Chouksey vs Union of India & Others is an important case in India which deals with inculcating a proper sense of paying respect to the National Anthem. It mentions that what needs to be done and what should not be done while playing or singing the National Anthem. The petitioner under Article 32 of the constitution of India approached the court to issue the writ of mandamus to

  1. Specify and understand what abuse and disrespect are to the National Anthem.

  2. To restrain the use of the National Anthem for any commercial or to have an advantage that may be financial in any sense.

The petitioner put forward these questions to understand the difference between respect and disrespect of National Anthem. The court examined the case and made observations for paying due respect to National Anthem and National Flag of our country.

FACTS OF THE CASE

In this case, the petitioner moved to the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the constitution for the issue of a writ of mandamus or any other writ that deems fit by the court commanding the Union of India to take any additional steps required for inculcating in public a proper sense of respect towards the National Anthem. 

The petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey believes that the means by which national anthem is disrespected and what constitutes abuse and disrespect to the symbols of the nation such as National Flag, National Anthem and Constitution of India is still not clear to the public at large.

ISSUES RAISED

  • The case Shyam Narayan Chouksey vs Union of India & Others deals with what constitutes respect and disrespect to the National Anthem i.e. what needs to be done while the National Anthem is being sung or played?

  • Are the submissions made by learned Attorney General of India Mr Mukul Rohtagi also valid for disabled people of India? As disabled people faced difficulties due to the submissions made by the learned Attorney General of India.

  • National Anthem and National Flag as the symbol of a secular nation.

ARGUMENTS RAISED

The petitioner under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution approached the court to issue the writ of mandamus specify and understand what abuse is and disrespect is to the National Anthem. 

Two applications soon were filed to recall the interim order passed by the Attorney General of India. Which question about how people who are physically disabled can show respect to National Anthem in cinema halls? There must be some exemption to this. To which the learned Attorney General of India submitted guidelines for the physically handicapped or challenged persons which shall be approved by the Central Government.

On the next hearing dated February 14 2017, applications were filed relating to difficulties faced further by disabled persons. The court-appointed the learned counsel Mr Sidharth Luthra who looked into the matter and highlighted certain matters which was passed by the court.  The learned counsel said that people are not expected to stand up in cinema halls while the National Anthem is played before the start of the feature film. Mr Subhash Chandran learned counsel submitted that he may be permitted to submit an application on behalf of the National Platform for Rights of Disabled. Mr Abhinav Shrivastava a learned counsel appearing for the petitioner raised contentions:

  • The Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act 1971 section 3 only deals with singing, playing of National Anthem but does not deal fully with how respect should be shown. Hence measures need to be described by the court.

  • Article 51 A of the Constitution states every citizen of India should respect the constitution and its National Flag, Anthem.

  • The order passed by the court should be recalled and changes ought to be made.

The court said that the committee appointed by the Union of India shall submit its recommendations. The order as passed on 30 November 2016 shall be modified and playing of National Anthem in cinema halls is not mandatory but optional.  The court disposed of the writ petition.

JUDGEMENT

The pride of any Nation is the symbols representing the nation such as National Anthem, National Flag and the Constitution of the Nation. Respect towards National Symbols is the duty of every citizen of India under Article 51(A) and promotes a sense of oneness and nationalism among the public. This case revolves around the issue of National Anthem, what constitutes disrespect of National Anthem and the issue of standing up in movie halls while National Anthem is played.

The Judgment of this case dated 9th January 2018 was delivered by Learned CJI Dipak Mishra. The Hon’ble Supreme Court while relying upon Union of India v. Naveen Jindal, stated that National Anthem and National Flag cannot be disrespected and every citizen is obliged to show respect, however, the cinema halls may not be the suitable place as people come here for unobstructed entertainment. The court further held that symbols representing the nation deserve a significant amount of respect as they serve as the élan vital of the Nation and promote a sense of unity and integrity among the public.

  • There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the national anthem should not be utilized by which the persons involved in it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit.

  • There shall not be a dramatization of the national anthem, and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the national anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of everyone present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the national anthem is absolutely inconceivable.

  •  National anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and never be displayed in such a manner at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the national anthem is sung, the concept of the protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in national identity, national integrity and constitutional patriotism.

  • All the cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem.

  • Prior to the national anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen. The entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the national anthem. After the national anthem is played or sung, the door can be opened.

  • Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

  •  When the national anthem shall be played in the cinema halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.

  • The abridged version of the national anthem made by one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed 

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India concluded its judgment by stating that the playing of national anthems is not mandatory and shall be left to the discretion of the concerned persons. However, whenever the National Anthem is played or sung, people are bound to show respect as required under executive orders thereby dismissing the petition.

ANALYSIS

The court judged a very important case on 9th January 2018 involving a plethora of feelings, emotions and patriotism. The case is important because it dealt with the issue of National Anthem and this case was dealt with great interpretations which were necessary as National Anthem is a national symbol representing the nation.

National integration cannot build by brick and mortar, by chisel & hammer. It has to grow silently in the minds and hearts of men.
India is an excellent example of “Unity in Diversity”. We have diversity in our religion, language, clothing, place of birth but one thing is which is common for all of us that all of us are the children of mother India or Bharat Mata. The feeling of oneness or patriotism can be created and maintained by showing respect to the Indian Constitution, national anthem and the national flag. To show this spirit we have to follow certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour “Standing respectfully when the national anthem is being played or sung” is one of them.
Our Constitution has conferred our wide range of fundamental rights. But we should never forget that every right comes with the duty and it is obligatory on each of us to follow them with due care. For the enforcement of duties, it is necessary that it should be known to all this should be done by a systematic and extensive education of the people. This can be done by using mass media or making it part of the syllabi & curriculum of education.
National anthem takes only fifty-two seconds to play or sing. If these fifty-two seconds creates oneness among all of us and takes us to journey of freedom struggle, remind us the sacrifices done by our forefathers we must stand respectfully for it and follow the direction given by hon’ble Supreme Court in “Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India.

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