National anthem “Jana Gana Mana” and national song “Vande Mataram” “stand on the same level” and citizens should show equal respect to both, the Centre has told Delhi High Court.
The Union Home ministry made the submission in an affidavit filed in response to a public interest litigation filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to ensure that both are honoured equally and given equal status.
Unlike the national anthem, there are no penal provisions or official instructions about singing or playing “Vande Mataram.” But the national song occupies a unique place in the emotions and psyche of Indians, and all directions of high courts and Supreme Court concerning the song are being followed, the ministry submitted.
Centre cites SC order
The ministry, in its reply, pointed out that the President of the Constituent Assembly of India adopted “Jana Gana Mana” as the National Anthem of India on January 24, 1950. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, made the action of preventing the singing of the national anthem or causing disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing a punishable offence.
However, there are no similar penal provisions in the case of “Vande Mataram,” and no instructions have been issued laying down the circumstances in which it may be sung or played, the Centre clarified. It also referred to the Supreme Court’s order in Upadhyay’s similar earlier plea.
In its judgment dated January 17, 2017, the apex court observed that Article 51A (a) of the Constitution of India does not refer to “National Song.” It only refers to National Flag and National Anthem.
“5IA. Fundamental duties — It shall be the duty of every citizen of India (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag, and National Anthem. Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned,” the SC had stated in its order.
“Sung in uncivilised manner”
Upadhyay argued in his petition that in the absence of any guideline or regulations to honour “Vande Mataram,” it is sung in an “uncivilised manner” and misused in films and parties. He also sought a direction from the Centre and the Delhi government to ensure that “Jana Gana Mana” and “Vande Mataram” are played and sung in all schools and educational institutions on every working day.
Pointing out that “Vande Mataram” played a historic role in the Indian freedom struggle, he argued that it ought to be honoured as much as “Jana Gana Mana.” He cited a statement made by then Constituent Assembly chairman Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1950 to make his point.
The petition demanded that there should not be any dramatization of “Vande Mataram.” Also, “it must not be included in any variety show because whenever it is sung or played, it is imperative on the part of everyone present to show due respect and honour.”
(With agency inputs)