New Delhi: Responding to a plea for equal status to ‘Vande Mataram’ with ‘Jana Gana Mana’, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that both stand on the same level and every citizen of the country should show equal respect to both.
“..National song occupies a unique and special place in the emotions and psyche of the people of India,” the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted.
The MHA, in its reply, also pointed out that on January 24, 1950, the President of the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as the National Anthem of India.
The ‘Orders relating to the National Anthem of India’ were issued regarding the manner and the circumstances in which the National Anthem has to be played or sung.
In 1971, the action of preventing the singing of the National Anthem or causing disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing was made a punishable offence by the enactment of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
The Centre’s response came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) moved by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking parity of treatment between the National Anthem and National Song and also to frame guidelines for the National Song ‘Vande Mataram’ giving it the same honour and status at par with the National Anthem of India.
However, the Centre, clarified that similar penal provisions have not been made by the Government in the case of the National Song ‘Vande Mataram’ and no instructions have been issued laying down the circumstances in which it may be sung or played. The Centre also referred to the Supreme Court 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 earlier SC order read.