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8th July 2023 (6 Topics)

Playing of the national anthem and laws

Context

In a recent incident, an executive magistrate in Srinagar sent 11 men to jail after they were detained for allegedly not rising for the National Anthem at an event.

What are the laws related to ‘disrespect’ to the National Anthem?

  • Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, (1971): Section 3 of the Act prescribes jail up to three years and/ or a fine for “intentionally preventing the singing of the National Anthem or causing disturbance to any assembly engaged in such singing”.
  • Article 51-A(a) of the Constitution makes it every citizen’s duty to “abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem”. 

Bijoe Emmanuel v State of Kerala (1986)

  • The law around alleged disrespect to the National Anthem was laid down by the Supreme Court in its 1986 judgment in Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State Of Kerala & Ors.
  • The court granted protection to three children (in school), who did not join in the singing of the National Anthem at their school.
  • The court held that forcing them to sing the Anthem violated their fundamental right to religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • Standing up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung but not singing oneself “does not either prevent the singing of the National Anthem or cause disturbance to an assembly engaged in such singing so as to constitute the offence”.

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