The Madras High Court on Monday (March 22) ruled that cutting cake with the motif of the national flag and the Ashoka Chakra on it and eating is not offensive against the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.
A bench of Justice N Anand Venkatesh gave the verdict while quashing a magistrate’s order to the Coimbatore Police to file a case against those who participated in the cutting of a cake decorated with the Tricolour motif in 2013.
“Symbolism of national pride is not synonymous with patriotism, just like how cutting a cake is not unpatriotic,” Justice Venkatesh said.
Stating that nationalism in a democracy like India was a vital factor, Justice Venkatesh, however, said that “hyper and surfeit adherence to it goes against the prosperity of our nation from all its past glory”.
The court was hearing a petition filed by D Senthilkumar who argued that cutting a cake with the motif of the national flag would be an offence under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. Under the act, a convict cold be punished up to three years in jail or imposed a fine or both.
A 6X5 feet cake iced with India’s map in Tricolour with the Ashoka Chakra in the centre was cut, distributed and eaten by over 2,500 people at Christmas party in Coimbatore in 2013. The district collector, deputy commissioner of police, religious leaders and members of NGO’s had attended the event, Senthilkumar had said in his FIR.
The court said one should also consider how the participants would have felt after attending the function.
“Will they be feeling great pride in belonging to this great nation, or would the pride of India have come down on the mere cutting of a cake during the celebration? Without any hesitation, this court can hold that the participants would have felt only the former,” Justice Venkatesh said.
He also quoted Tagore to assert that humanity comes before patriotism.
“Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.”