New Delhi (The Hawk): The Delhi High Court on Thursday postponed a hearing on a request for an order granting national song "Vande Mataram" the same status as the national anthem "Jana Gana Mana" since it was historically significant to the freedom struggle.
According to Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has filed its reply, but it is still pending from the petitioner's perspective. A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad set the hearing date for the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for April 28, 2023.
The ASG informed the court that the MHA had argued in its response that even while both the anthem and the song are sacred and deserving of respect, the topic of the current proceedings cannot ever be the subject of a writ.
The MHA claimed that while there is no equivalent statute or enactment for "Vande Mataram," disturbing any assembly when it is singing the National Anthem is a serious offence under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971.
Additionally, it said that the Delhi High Court and the Apex Court had previously rejected similar cases.
"Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram are on an equal footing, and every citizen of the nation should treat them both with respect. The Indian people's emotions and mentality hold a distinct and particular place for the National Song.
In addition, according to the statement made by the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, regarding the National Anthem on January 24, 1950, the petitioner, attorney Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, has asked for a declaration that the National Song shall have equal status with the National Anthem.
Prasad was quoted in the petition as saying: "There is one subject that has been left for discussion, and that is the matter of the National Anthem. At one point, it was anticipated that the issue would be brought before the House and resolved by a resolution from the House. However, it has been decided that making a statement regarding the National Anthem is preferable to adopting a formal resolution. Therefore, I declare the following.
The song "Vande Mataram," which has played a historic role in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with "Jana Gana Mana" and shall have equal status with it. The composition known as "Jana Gana Mana" is the "National Anthem of India," subject to such alternations in the words as the government may authorise as occasions arise. I'm hoping that the members will be pleased.
"Vande Mataram" is a symbol of our history, independence, solidarity, and pride, according to Upadhyay's request. If any citizen disrespects it in any overt or covert way, it would not only be antisocial but also mean the end for all of our rights and our very existence as citizens of a sovereign nation.
In contrast to associations or confederations of States, India is a union of States. Every Indian has a responsibility to respect "Vande Mataram" because there is only one nationality, that of India. It is the responsibility of the government to create a National Policy to promote and propagate "Jana Gana Mana" and "Vande Mataram" in order to keep the nation unified. There is no justification for it to elicit any other feeling given that both were decided by the Constitution's authors.
(Inputs from Agencies)