Aartis, works of Kalidas also revered but need no protection of law, says Centre
‘Evocative’ national song 'Vande Mataram' is inseparably linked with India's freedom struggle but does not call for amendment in law to ensure that it is granted the respect and dignity it deserves, the Delhi High Court has held while agreeing with the government that protection under law is not the only way to respect to a creative work.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar dismissed a plea moved by Gautam Morarka.
Morarka had sought directions to the Centre to consider moving an appropriate Bill for amendment in the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, to incorporate provisions with respect to the national song ‘Vande Mataram’ to ensure the respect and dignity which the national song deserves on par with the national anthem.
"... Though there can be no dispute with the writ petitioner that the song ‘Vande Mataram’ deserves the regard and respect which has been recognized by the respondents... we are unable to grant the prayers made in the writ petition," the court ordered.
Morarka's counsel and senior advocate Pravin H Parekh had contended that song ‘Vande Mataram’ has been given equal status as the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ by the Constituent
Assembly of India which met to sign the Constitution on January 24, 1950, and highlighted lack of rules regarding its rendition as well as the protocols to be followed regarding its singing.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had told the court that a committee was constituted premised on the representations of the petitioner which held a meeting on March 29, 2016, and considered the petitioner’s representation.
The committee passed an order on May 30, 2016, noting that status quo may be maintained in this regard for the present, hoping that every citizen of India should remember the historic role of the song in our freedom struggle and show due respect to the song when it is played or sung.
Centre draws comparison with Aartis
The committee further said, "Protection under the law is not the only way to show respect to a creative work. Billions of Indians have the deepest respect and unabiding faith in the
Ramcharitmanas and the Mahabharat. Christians across the world similarly have faith in the Bible; the works of Kalidas and Shakespeare are and have been revered across the world and across centuries; and Aartis are sung with utmost devotion and respect. Yet none of these have, indeed none of them require, the protection of law."
"In fact, such work of creativity and/or of religious nature can be said to be beyond and above law. A nation has only one flag and one anthem; that does not mean that any less respect is meant to other songs or prayers, or that the citizens are prevented from loving respecting, singing and being emotionally attached to other songs, books or symbols," it said.
Agreeing that the evocative ‘Vande Mataram’ is an eternal song which commands respect and love, without it being mandated or enforced by the long arm of the law, the Centre said it requires no formal codification.
Popularising Vande Mataram a greater contribution
The committee went on to advise the petitioner to promote Vande Mataram among the youth.
"The applicant would be well advised to translate his obvious love and respect for Vande Mataram to promoting and popularizing it amongst the young, explaining its meaning and significance; that may be a greater contribution by him to song vande mataram," it said.
Taking note of the findings, the bench said, "It needs no elaboration that the ‘Vande Mataram’ is inseparably linked with the freedom struggle as is noted by the committee and the respondents as an eternal song which commands respect and love without it being managed or enforced by the long arm of the law".