The Delhi High Court, while issuing notice on a petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking a declaration that the song 'Vande Mataram' shall be honoured equally with national anthem 'Jana-Gana-Mana', has expressed its displeasure for publicizing the filing of the petition in the media.
"This seems to be an exercise in publicity. You have no business going to the press and informing them that you've filed this petition, it will be coming up...When a petitioner does anything of this kind, the impression court gets is that it is merely a publicity stunt," a Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta told Upadhyay.
Nevertheless, noting that he has expressed his regret and is involved in filing several petitions in "public interest", the Bench issued notice to the Respondents and sought their reply within six weeks.
"He has expressed his regret. Since he is a serious litigant who files petitions in public interest, we are entertaining the writ petition," the Bench recorded in its order.
Upadhyay submitted that Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Chairman of the Constituent Assembly on January 24, 1950 endorsed the song 'Vande Mataram' shall be honoured equally with 'Jana-Gana-Mana' thereby having equal status with it. He also referred to certain judicial precedents, recognizing Vande Mataram as a "national song".
Despite the aforesaid, Upadhyay submitted that there are no guidelines regulating the use of Vande Mataram song. It does not even find mention in the National Honour Act, 1971 and as a consequence, he alleged that it is being sung in a very "uncivilized" way in serials, films, and even rock bands.
He informed the Court that the Supreme Court, in the case of Shyam Narayan Chouksey v Union of India, passed an interim order constituting an inter-ministerial committee which was required to make recommendations on the issue. However, no progress has been made since.
Upadhyay also referred to a 2017 judgment of the Madras High Court, which recognized Vande Mataram as India's national song and made that it be sung compulsorily at least once a week in all schools, colleges, universities and educational institutions.
He submitted that it is the duty of every Indian to show respect when Vandemataram is played or sung, further adding that Vandemataram should not be utilized by which the person involved with it directly or indirectly and shall have any commercial benefit. He also prayed that a direction be made to the Centre and State Governments to ensure that 'Jana-Gana-Mana' and 'Vande mataram' are played and sung in all schools and educational institutions on every working day.
The matter will be heard on November 9.
Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India