Supreme Court issues notice in petition against commercial exploitation of National Anthem

intra-court appeal

The Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the Central government in a petition seeking, amongst other things, a bar on the commercial exploitation of national anthem for financial or any other gains.

The petition filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey was heard by a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy on October 28 last week. Advocate Abhinav Srivastava appeared for the petitioner.

In the petition, reference has been made to Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. It is averred that the national anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible, and cannot be legally countenanced regard being had to the national honour.

Two examples cited in the petition, and reproduced in the order, were: one, the playing of the anthem to test the behavioural pattern of a candidate. And two, the anthem being played in entertainment shows in order to “dramatize the whole thing”.

Chouksey has made the following suggestions to avoid the abuse of National Anthem:

  1. There should be no commercial exploitation to gain financial advantage or any kind of benefit.
  2. There should be no interruption in between till the completion of National Anthem and no abridged version of National Anthem shall be sung at any point of time.
  3. There should not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be sung in an entertainment programme.
  4. It should not be sung before the people who do not understand it unless they are properly apprised that when the National Anthem of India is to be played, they are required to show respect.
  5. It should not be printed on undesirable objects and should not be displayed in such a manner and at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and may tantamount to disrespect.

Apart from the aforesaid suggestions, it has also been prayed that directions should be issued that the National Anthem should be played in the cinema theatres across the country before the feature film. Chouksey has also sought for proper norms and protocol to be fixed with regard to playing or singing of National Anthem in an official function and functions where certain constitutional dignitaries are present.

The Court issued notice to the Centre and has directed that a copy of the petition be served on advocate BK Prasad “who ordinarily appears for Central Agency of Union of India.”

The matter will now be heard on November 30.

Read the order below.