After a Mumbai model was accused of insulting the national flag, actor Shah Rukh Khan is in trouble for the same. While some feel such actions should be dealt with severely so that it sends a strong message to others to refrain from such an offence, others feel the intention of the person should be equally taken into consideration before meting out any punishment. Speak Up brings you opinions of citizens
The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971, prohibits desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the flag, constitution and anthem
Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written or by acts) the Indian national flag or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or fine, or both
The expression, ‘Indian National Flag’ includes any picture, painting, drawing or photograph, or other visible representation of the Indian flag, or of any part or parts thereof, made of any substance or represented on any substance
Offender must not be just let off with a warning
Strict warning must be given to the offenders who insult our national flag as mentioned under the The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971. Those who have offended the national flag and say that they were unaware about it must be at least served a legal notice, warning them to refrain from committing such an offence. This will become a lesson for the offender and send across a message to others as well. Though under the Act it is mentioned that there is a maximum 3 years imprisonment, I feel depending on the offence, the guilty must get at least a day’s imprisonment. The offender must not be just let off with a warning. Not knowing the law is pardonable, provided the offender at least gets one day imprisonment.
Kumar Saptarishi, Gandhian and founder, Yuvak Kranti Dal
Court needs to verify the intention behind offence
Every offender insulting our national flag has to be judged on the basis of the motive behind the offence. What is the motive? Was it really done with the intention of insulting the national honour? Is the person a habitual offender who insults the nation and the tricolour often in spite of warning? The court needs to check whether the offence was done out of ignorance. Though ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of law, the intent of a person must be taken into consideration. In this offence, it varies from case to case considering the motive behind the action. The benefit of doubt always goes to the accused as it is the law of the nation.
Based on this, the court can give a warning or show leniency by giving importance to the intention or motive behind the offence.
BG Kolse Patil , former high court judge
One can show respect to national flag in several ways
Several acts fall in the definition of insulting the national flag. However, it is far more essential to examine the intention of a person who insults the flag. Compared to other countries, the code for Indian flag is said to be too rigid. Few years ago, it was considered an offence to unfurl the national flag in public places. Fortunately, now it is allowed.
There are several ways of showing love and respect towards the national flag that might differ from person to person and country to country. If Indian law is applied to the US then more than half the population will be arrested for disrespecting the flag. The way Americans treat their national flag doesn’t make them less patriotic.
Our problem is that we attach too much importance to symbols while ignoring their essence. We meekly witness the destruction of public property during strikes, protests or bandhs but will immediately make noise over the so-called act of disrespecting the national flag. So the definition of disrespect has to be cautiously applied. The act and intention of the alleged person needs to be scrutinised. The generalised definition of disrespect is nothing but the trivialisation of an issue.
Vidyabhushan Arya, Faculty, Political Science
A strong message needs to be sent out to others
The Mumbai model who was recently arrested for allegedly insulting the national flag must have done it for publicity. Such offenders should not be pardoned and must be awarded the highest punishment as per the law. Her action has insulted the whole nation. In the glamour world, people use different mediums to be in the limelight. If the model has done the offence as a publicity gimmick, it must be taken seriously as her motive is wrong. A strong message needs to be sent across otherwise people will keep insulting the tricolour and claim they are innocent. Insulting the tricolour as mentioned under the The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971, is certainly objectionable and if it is a serious offence then the highest penalty should be slapped.
Pradeep Brahmankar, Lt Col (Retd)
A person should bear punitive damages as per degree of defamation
Any offence under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 1971, is bailable wherein one is let off after paying the stipulated bail amount. However, the intention of the offender who insulted the national flag must be taken into consideration. Insulting the tricolour as mentioned under the Act is a civil offence. Under US federal laws, if you insult the national flag the damages are arbitrary and governed by Law of Torts. In my opinion, if you insult India’s sovereignty then the following should be considered; the worth (his/her standing or reputation in society) of the person who has committed the offence and the degree of defamation (in case of tricolour: destroying being the highest level and modified display being lowest). Accordingly, the person should bear punitive or exemplary damages.
Devashish Jagirdar, law student