Was hoisting the national flag in private property restricted as per Flag Code before 2002

Was hoisting the national flag in private property restricted before 2002 ?

The answer is Yes. In 1995 Navin Jindal case first in Delhi HC and later in Supreme Court clearly shows it. Flag hoisting on private property and pinning/wearing it on the body was allowed after a judgment by SC on 23 January, 2004.

Here is a brief history of that case:

National Flag hoisting on private property was not allowed legally before 23 January 2004 as it was regulated by the government. A SDM level government officer had the authority to regulate flag hoisting on private property and even in public places. The issue came into prominence when Sri Navin Jindal hoisted the Tiranga on his Raigarh, Chattisgarh (then M.P.) based factory. He was served a notice by SDM and finally the Bilaspur District Magistrate refused him to give permission for hoisting Tiranga on his factory. Local court upheld the decision of Bilaspur DM. Jindal then filed appeal in Delhi HC in 1995.

The view of Union of India to this issue was that the Central Government is authorized to impose restrictions on the use of National Flag at any public place or building, and can regulate the same by the authority vested in it under Section 3 of the Emblem and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. The Union of India also viewed that the restriction imposed by the Act and orders issued by the Government are constitutionally valid, being reasonable restrictions on the Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on 22nd September, 1995 allowed the writ petition filed by Naveen Jindal holding that “Any restriction contained in the “Flag Code – India” relating to the flying of national flag by the citizens cannot be enforced except when contravention of those restriction come within the purview of any law in force.” A mandamus was issued to the Respondents (Union of India & others) restraining them from interfering with the right of the Petitioner to fly the national flag on his premises. Jindal pleaded that the Flag Code of India was only a set of executive instructions from the Government of India and therefore not law.

The High Court allowed the petition and held that the Flag Code of India was not a valid restriction on the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The High Court observed that, according to Article 19(2), the only valid limitations on this right were those that were contained in statute. In cases concerning the regulation of the flying of the national flag, such limitations could be found in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950 or the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971.
Central govt appealed in SC which upheld Delhi HC judgment on 23 January 2004.

  • Contributed by Sri Jagdish Upasane

RSS and its association with the Tricolour

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