Written by Vidisha Mathur
In the recent celebrations of the 75th year of Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged every citizen of India to honor the National Flag at their homes, offices, social media, etc. as a part of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ Campaign to commemorate Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The Flag Code was amended in 2021 to allow for machine-made and polyester flags, which were previously prohibited in favor of Handmade Khaadi flags, to allow the campaign to succeed without violations of the code and dishonor of the National flag. Many have expressed resentment to this amendment, whilst others have focused on the journey of a citizen’s right to fly the national flag.
Legislations such as the Prevention of Insult to National Honor Act of 1971 and Flag Code of 2002, aim to protect the Tricolored flag with the Asoka Chakra from undignified representation. It lays down the duties a citizen owes to the flag under Article 51(A)(a)
The right to hoist the Indian flag was not recognized as a Fundamental Right, to begin with. In the case, Naveen Jindal v Union of India, wherein the petitioner challenged the restrictions the Flag code imposed on private citizens. The Delhi High Court held that respectfully flying the flag cannot be prohibited. In its appeal, the Supreme Court observed that the right to fly a flag freely, respectfully, and with dignity, was fundamental and incorporated in Article 19(1)(a) as an expression of nationalism, patriotism, and pride in the country.
But it also held that it was subject to reasonable restrictions, as is the freedom of expression, and no disrespect of the National flag or any other symbol will be tolerated. Though there have been many controversies regarding what is regarded as an insult to the Flag, in the case of State v D. Senthilkumar, the Madras High Court held that the gross physical matter cannot be accepted and the intention behind it will be the true test.