Don't stand up for national anthem? You could end up in jail soon

Namrata Tripathi
Bollywood celebs wish Happy Independence Day. Pictured: A person with the Indian flag in his hand.

You could soon land up in jail for disrespecting or not standing up for the national anthem.

Shyam Narayan Chouskey, a Bhopal resident, filed a plea in the Supreme Court on Tuesday to put a punishment in place for those who do not stand up for the national anthem or violate SC's directive. 

Chouskey had earlier persuaded the top court to issue a controversial order directing all cine-goers to stand up for the national anthem played before the movie. Currently, there are punishments in place for insulting the national flag and the Constitution. Any person who disrespects the tricolour could get a jail term of up to three years.

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A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear a plea filed by Chouskey's lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi to amend the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971. The Act only prescribes punishment for insulting the national flag and Constitution. The plea argued to extend the cover to national anthem as well.

Supreme Court

IANS File Photo

SC to take a stand on August 23

The court will reportedly take a stand on the Dwidevi's plea on August 23.

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"The 1971 Act provides for prevention of disrespect and insult to national flag and Constitution of India and its punishment but makes no similar provision with respect to national anthem," Dwivedi said.

"Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both," the Act states.

Chouskey's petition proposes punishment for not standing up when the anthem is being played, derogatory or improper use of anthem through any means of mass media and any kind of distortion, displacement or alteration of the contents of the national anthem.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday had said the "respect of national anthem is non-negotiable and every citizen is bound to show due respect to national flag and anthem".

"It is unfortunate that court has to intervene to ensure that people respect their national anthem which is their duty. It is a sad state of affairs that the petitioner had to come to a constitutional court for it when it is the duty of one and all," Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who represented the Centre said.

Wheelchair

SC exempts 6 categories of disabled people from standing up for national anthem

The top court, however, extended the exemption granted to certain categories of disabled persons from standing while national anthem is played in theatres, including people suffering from autism, cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities, Parkinson disease and stenosis.

Meanwhile, the SC also issued a notice to the Centre on Tuesday over a plea that sought to make the singing of 'Vande Mataram' mandatory in all educational institutions. The court has asked the Central government to respond to the plea within four weeks. The next hearing on the matter will be held on August 23.

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