Chennai: Citing the Rig Veda, Rabindranath Tagore, Nani Palkhivala, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Madras excessive court docket on Monday got here down onerous on what it termed “hyper and surfeit” nationalism, whereas ruling that slicing a cake within the type of the Indian map in tricolour and consuming it don’t quantity to an offence below the Prevention of Insults to Nationwide Honour Act.
A single decide bench of justice N Anand Venkatesh quashed a Justice of the Peace’s route to Coimbatore police to register a case towards those that indulged within the act, saying that “symbolisation of nationwide delight will not be synonymous with patriotism, identical to how slicing a cake will not be unpatriotic”. It was listening to the state’s attraction towards the Justice of the Peace’s order.
The case refers to a 2013 public celebration on Christmas Day in Coimbatore district. The celebrations featured a big cake, the icing on which depicted a tricoloured define of India’s map with the Ashoka Chakra within the center. This cake was minimize, distributed, and consumed by a minimum of 2,500 individuals together with round 1,000 youngsters.
In keeping with the complainant, D Senthilkumar, of the Hindu Public Get together, the celebrations had been additionally attended by the Coimbatore district collector, the deputy police commissioner, numerous non secular leaders, and members of a number of NGOs. The complainant’s grievance was that the illustration of the Indian nationwide flag on the cake, and the slicing of the identical, amounted to an offence below Part 2 of the Prevention of Insults to Nationwide Honour Act, 1971. Part 2 penalises insults to the Indian flag and the Structure of India with imprisonment as much as three years or a high quality or each.
“Patriotism will not be decided by a gross bodily act. The intention behind the act would be the true take a look at,” the court docket noticed. The decide stated that, within the case in query, it was necessary to contemplate the sensation with which the members left the operate. “Will they be feeling nice delight in belonging to this nice nation, or would the delight of India have come down on the mere slicing of a cake through the celebration? With none hesitation, this court docket can maintain that the members would have felt solely the previous.”
The excessive court docket in contrast a hypothetical instance of how after Independence Day or Republic Day celebrations, individuals who put on flags discard them. “If individuals are allowed to provide such broad which means to the phrase ‘insult’, many will turn into very uncomfortable and hesitant to deal with the nationwide flag.”
The Flag Code, 2002, does prescribe methods to destroy flags in personal and in a respectful method, the court docket stated, and whereas it ought to be adopted by each citizen, not all might pay attention to it. Therefore, not doing so is not going to make individuals accountable for prosecution, the decide stated.
The decision comes at a time when an rising variety of petitions are been filed in numerous courts over perceived or alleged insults to nationwide symbols.
The court docket drew from the Rig Veda on the Indian ethos of tolerance and recalled Rabindranath Tagore’s comment, “Patriotism can’t be our ultimate non secular shelter; my refuge is humanity. I cannot purchase glass for the worth of diamonds, and I’ll by no means permit patriotism to conquer humanity so long as I stay.”
To underscore its judgment, the court docket cited late jurist N A Palkhivala and American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson’s phrases and stated that “a patriot will not be one who solely raises the flag, symbolises his nationwide delight and put on it on his sleeve, but additionally, an individual who bats for good governance”.
“A wayfarer, for the sake of publicity, shouldn’t be allowed to show individuals to felony prosecution for some innocuous acts,” the decide noticed.