Soon there could be jail term for not standing up for national anthem

As of now, insulting the Tricolour or Constitution attracts a jail term up to three years but there is no such provision for national anthem.

Soon there could be punishment for disrespecting and insulting the national anthem.

Bhopal resident Shyam Narayan Chouskey - who had on November 30, 2016 persuaded the Supreme Court to issue a controversial order directing all cine-goers to stand up for the national anthem played before the movie - Tuesday told the judges that there should also be some punishment for violation of the court directive to ensure strict compliance.

As of now, insulting the Tricolour or Constitution attracts a jail term up to three years. It is to be noted that the court had not imposed any punishment of fine for not obeying its order. On Chouskey's lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi's plea, a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear arguments on directing the parliament to amend the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 which now prescribed punishment for dishonour of national flag and constitution only, to include the national anthem also.

COURT TO TAKE STAND ON AUG 23

The court will take a stand on August 23. "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," argued Dwivedi.

"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," says the Act.

Not getting up when the anthem is being played, derogatory or improper use of anthem through any means of mass media and any kind of mutilation, distortion, displacement or alteration of the contents of the national anthem are among the the acts listed in Chouskey's petition. Responding to the view, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who represented the Centre 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," he said. Meanwhile, the court extended the exemption granted to certain categories of disabled persons from standing while national anthem is played in theatres to those affected with autism, cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities, Parkinson disease, stenosis, etc .

Also read: Disabled people need not stand for national anthem, says Supreme Court

Also read: Kashmiri cricketers seen singing Pakistan national anthem detained