Prevention of Insults to National Symbols: Legal Provisions – UPSC Prelims

 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971
  • This act is applicable in whole of India (including Jammu & Kashmir) and it prohibits the desecration of or insult to the National Flag, Constitution, National Anthem, India’s Map etc.
  • Provisions Regarding National Flag and Constitution: 
    • This act makes provision that whoever burns, mutilates, destroys, disfigures or otherwise shows disrespect to India’s National Flag or Constitution shall be punished with an imprisonment (max-3 years) or a fine or both.
    • The definition of Indian Flag included any picture, drawing, photograph or any other visible representation.
How the above provisions are related to Flag Code of India 2002?
  • Display of National Flag is governed by the provisions of two acts viz.
    • Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and
    • Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
  • Further, the government also issues non-statutory instructions from time to time.
  • The Flag Code of India brings these laws, conventions and other instructions together and serves as a single reference point about how to properly hoist flag of India with due honour.
  • The Flag Code of India itself is not an act of parliament.
Use of National Flag as a drapery:
  • The National Flag of the country can only be used as a drapery if a funeral has been accorded the status of a state funeral.
  • State funerals are held if a person passed away belongs to police, armed forces, office of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Minister, Chief Minister.
  • The state government can accord the state funeral status to the person other than the mentioned categories.
How provisions of IPC are related to disrespect to National Anthem?
  • Disrespect to national insignia has been linked to Section 124(A) of IPC, which refers to sedition.
  • This section was slapped on few people in Kerala who failed to stand while National Anthem was being played in a theatre.
  • Similarly, a youth was arrested under Section 66-A of the IT Act in 2014 {this section is now null and void} for posting a picture of National Flag with a derogatory comment on it on Facebook.
Provisions Regarding National Anthem:
  • The section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act says that whoever intentionally prevents the singing of National Anthem or causes any disturbance in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment (max 3 years) or a fine or both.
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