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3.LEGALITY& Constituent Assembly, Indian Constitution, Supreme Court’s decision & Government’s notification

4.FOREIGN LAWS & Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Italy, United States of America



India is the largest democracy in the world. “JANA GANA MANA” is our National Anthem. Our National Anthem tells us that India is a diverse nation and there are differences in culture, traditions, religion and languages but despite these differences, it reminds us that India is united under one flag. The anthem is significant in uniting people and reminding us that there isn’t any difference between us Indians.


The original National Anthem was written by Rabindra Nath Tagore(7 May 1861-7 August 1941) also known as “Gurudev”, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913. Abid Hasan Safrani translated the original Bengali version into Hindi and Urdu, but the conversion by him is little bit different from the original. Tagore translate Jana Gana Mana from Bengali to English and also set it to music in Madanpalle( Chittor, Andhra Pradesh).

The song has been written almost entirely using nouns that also can function as verbs. Most of the words of the song are in use in major languages in India. The full version(5 stanzas) of the song takes 52 seconds to sing, while the short version takes approximately 20 seconds. The full version National Anthem song is sung using the orchestral/choral adaptation made by English composer Herbert Murrill.

Historians claim that the song was composed for king George V, as the emperor was scheduled to arrive in the city on 30 December and a section of the Anglo-Indian English Press in Calcutta thought& and duly reported & that Tagore’s hymn was a homage to the Emperor. Later on Tagore made his clarification in late 1930s when he wrote a letter to Pulin Behari Sen. He wrote: “neither the Fifth nor the Sixth nor any George could be the maker human destiny through the ages.” “ I had hailed in song  Jana Gana Mana that Dispenser of India’s destiny who guides, through all rise and fall, the wayfarers, He who shows the people the way…”

        Another controversy is that only those provinces that were under British rule ,i.e. Punjab, Sindh, Gujrat, Maratha, Dravid(South India), Orissa and Bengal were mentioned. None of the princely states & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Hyderabad or the states in Northeast India were mentioned. But opponents of this proportion claim that Tagore only mentioned the border states of India to include complete India.



Not only a patriotic hymn but Jana Gana Mana has been a matter of national pride. It has got some legal backing too in our constitution and other legislations.

On 24th of January 1950, Jana Gana Mana was adopted as our National Anthem by the Constituent Assembly in Constitutional Hall, New Delhi, at Eleven of the clock. The President of the Constituent Assembly Debate, Dr. Rajendra Prasasd on issue of National Anthem said : “There is one matter which has been pending for discussion, namely the question of the National Anthem. At one time it was thought that the matter might be brought up before the House and a decision taken by the House by way of a resolution. But it has been felt that, instead of taking a formal decision by means of a resolution, it is better if I make a statement with regard to the National Anthem. Accordingly I make this statement.

        The composition consisting of the words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations in the words as the Government may authorise as occasion arises; and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. (Applause). I hope this will satisfy the Members.”

In our Constitution we’ve got fundamental rights as well as fundamental duties, however in original constitution there was nothing as fundamental duties. It was further added by 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 as part IVA. Article 51A(a) says that “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India & to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideal and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

However fundamental duties are not binding (as fundamental rights) upon us but as a responsible citizen it is our obligation to fulfill the basic requirements of our constitution. “Fundamental Duties constitute the conscience of our constitutional values that must be propagated by all citizens.”[i]

In 1971 the Parliament passed a separate legislation related to national pride i.e. flag, anthem and constitution as The Prevention Of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971 which was further Amended by the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act,2005. Section 3 talks about prevention of singing of National Anthem. It says “Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbances of any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or fine, or with both.

Apart from these laws the custodian and guardian of our Constitution, the Supreme Court has also dealt with this matter various times. In case of Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala[ii] there was a question whether standing in attention and not singing the National Anthem is violation of any law; did it lead to disrespect of the National Anthem if a person didn’t sing the Anthem because his religious conscience did not permit him to do so. The honourable Supreme Court observed: “We may at once say that there is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor do we think that it is disrespectful to the National Anthem if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung does not join the singing. It is true that Article 51A(a) of the Constitution enjoins the duty on every citizen of India to respect the National Anthem. Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung. It will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining the singing.”

Again in the first decade of 21st century a matter reached the court regarding disrespect of the National Anthem in case of Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India[iii]. The court dealing with patriotism gave its observation in words of Deepak Mishra J. : The National Anthem is the glory of the nation. It is an expression of sovereignty of India. In this context we may profitably refer to the statement of Objects and Reason to the Prevention of Insults of National honour Act,1971.”

        “It cannot be forgotten that national anthem is the national pride and must be respected. The national character is built when people develop national habits and as a consequence of which certain things are done and certain things are not done. It is worth remembering that things which are required to be done, have not done, one is indubitably in default. National anthem is understood to be a song expressing patriotic sense and is regarded as the official national song holding the position of popular feeling.

Again while talking about the reputation of the National Anthem the Court said: “National Anthem is to be sung with magna cum laude(with great distinction) and nobody can ostracize(exclude) the concept of summa cum laude(with the highest distinction).”

About the motherland the court used an ancient shloka to express its views as &   “API SWARNAMAYI LANKA NA ME ROCHATE LAKSHMAN JANANI JANMA-BHUMISCHA SWARGADAPI GARIYASI.”

The court concluded its views as “The National Anthem is pivotal and centripetal to the basic conception of sovereignty and integrity of India. It is narrow of nationalism, hypostasis of patriotism, nucleus of national heritage, substratum of culture and epitome of national honour.”

Again in 2016 the issue of national pride and the singing of national anthem arose when some people in a movie theatre refused to stand up and sing the National Anthem. In Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India[iv] the court directed: (a) There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the National Anthem should not be utilized by which the person involved with it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit. (b) There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is absolutely inconceivable. (c) National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which 3 may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism.(d) All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem. (e) Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened. (f) When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen. (g) The abridge version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed.

         In respect of fundamental duty described in Article 51A(a) Court said: “it is clear as crystal that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution. And one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag. Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible.”


  1. The full version of the Anthem shall be played on the following occasions:
  1. Civil and Military investitures;
  2. When National Salute (which means the Command “Rashtriya Salute Salami Shastr” to the accompaniment of the National Anthem is given on ceremonial occasions to the President or to the Governor/Lieutenant Governor within their respective States/Union Territories;
  • During parades irrespective of whether any of the dignitaries referred to in (ii) above is present or not;
  1. On arrival of the President at formal State functions and other functions organized by the Government and mass functions and on his departure from such functions;
  2. Immediately before and after the President addresses the Nation over All India Radio;
  3. On arrival of the Governor/Lieutenant Governor at formal State functions within his State/Union Territory and on his departure from such functions;
  • When the National Flag is brought on parade;
  • When the Regimental Colours are presented;
  1. For hoisting of colours in the Navy.
  • The short version of the Anthem shall be played when drinking toasts in Messes.
  • The Anthem shall be played on any other occasion for which special orders have been issued by the Government of India.
  • Normally the Anthem shall not be played for the Prime Minister, though there may be special occasions when it may be played.
  • When the National Anthem is played by a band, the Anthem will be preceded by a roll of drums to assist the audience to know that the National Anthem is going to be played, unless there is some other specific indication that the National Anthem is about to be played, as for example, when fanfares are sounded before the National Anthem is played, or when toasts are drunk to the accompaniment of the National Anthem or when the National Anthem constitutes the National Salute given by a Guard of Honour. The duration of the roll, in terms of marching drill, will be 7 paces in slow march. The roll will start slowly, ascend to as loud a volume as possible and then gradually decreases to original softness, but remaining audible until the seventh beat. One beat rest will then be observed before commencing the National Anthem.

Mass Singing of the Anthem

  1. The full version of the Anthem shall be played accompanied by mass singing on the following occasions:
  1. On the unfurling of the National Flag, on cultural occasions or ceremonial functions other than parades. (This could be arranged by having a choir or adequate size, suitably stationed, which would be trained to coordinate its singing with the band etc. There should be an adequate public audition system so that the gathering in various enclosures can sing in unison with the choir);
  2. On arrival of the President at any Government or Public function (but excluding formal State functions and mess functions) and also immediately before his departure from such functions.
  • On all occasions when the National Anthem is sung, the full version shall be recited accompanied by mass singing.
  • The Anthem may be sung on occasions which, although not strictly ceremonial, are nevertheless invested with significance because of the presence of Ministers etc. The singing of the Anthem on such occasions (with or without the accompaniment of an instruments) accompanied by mass singing is desirable.
  • It is not possible to give an exhaustive list of occasions on which the singing (as distinct from playing) of the Anthem can be permitted. But there is no objection to the singing of the Anthem accompanied by mass singing so long as it is done with due respect as a salutation to the motherland and proper decorum is maintained.
  • In all schools, the day’s work may begin with community singing of the anthem. School authorities should make adequate provision in their programmes for popularising the singing of the Anthem and promoting respect for the National Flag among students.


  1. Whenever the Anthem is sung or played, the audience shall stand to attention. However, when in the course of a newsreel or documentary the Anthem is played as a part of the film, it is not expected of the audience to stand as standing is bound to interrupt the exhibition of the film and would create disorder and confusion rather than add to the dignity of the Anthem.
  2. As in the case of the flying of the National Flag, it has been left to the good sense of the people not to indulge in indiscriminate singing or playing of the Anthem.




The Japanese, who have had a rocky relationship with overt displays of nationalism since World War II, passed a law that officially established their national flag and anthem only in 1999. The Act on National Flag and Anthem made no provisions for usage and treatment of the symbol. Each city is free to make their own regulations regarding the national anthem. This has resulted in unexpected problems.

In 2003, Tokyo passed a regulation that required school or board officials to record the names of teachers who did not stand and sing the national anthem. The anthem, Kimigayo, is a solemn song about Japan’s emperor. Some feel this song is associated with Japan’s militarist past and do not stand as protest.  As a result, more than 500 teachers in Tokyo have been disciplined for refusing to stand and sing the national anthem. Some have lost their jobs while others were let off with warnings. Some of the other sanctions include re-education courses and pay cuts.

Last year, nine teachers from seven schools were reprimanded for not standing up during the national anthem during graduation ceremonies.


In Mexico, according to the Law of the Coat of Arms, Flag, and National Anthem, all schools and universities are supposed to honour the flag on Monday mornings, and the beginning and end of school terms. Honouring of the flag involves a pledge and the national anthem. At many schools children are expecting to wear a different uniform on Monday, generally all white, out of respect for the flag and anthem. Teachers walk around to check whether the children are actually singing.

A Mexican woman, Guadalupe Madrigal, was fined $40 by the Mexican government for messing up words to the national anthem. Under the law, she could have been fined $880, but the authorities let her off because of her weak economic situation.


In Italy, the national anthem isn’t played at schools or other public places, except during sporting events, at formal state ceremonies and at public rallies attended by the President. No one is required to sing along or behave in some particular way while the national anthem is being played. However, Italians are required to stand and show respect to any national anthem.

Claudio Marchisio, a top-flight footballer, was accused of mocking the Italian national anthem during a match between Italy and Switzerland back in 2010. The controversy arose when a video was uploaded online showing the player adding the phrase “Ché schiava di Roma” (The slave of Rome) to the anthem’s lyrics.


Thailand’s love for its anthem is more fervid than most. It is played everyday on television at 8 am and 6 pm. Students of all ages gather in front of the national flag at 8 am and sing the national anthem together. The national anthem is also played regularly in government offices, and before movie screenings. However, there is no law regarding the national anthem in Thailand. It’s just an unofficial convention.

United States

The convention in the United States is pretty clear: when the national anthem is being played, whether or not the American flag is displayed, all individuals should face the flag/the source of music and stand at attention with the right hand over their hearts. But the United States does not discipline its citizens for failing to stand up.[v]



National anthem is the symbol of our history, sovereignty, unity, pride and honour. Any person who shows disrespect to the national anthem in a way, has to be regarded involved in anti-national activity. The dedication of our forefathers, the sincerity of the people who fought for the people and suffered death and sense of patriotism that was shown, cannot be thrown aboveboard on the ground of hypertechnicality when the interest of the nation is involved. When the pride of the nation is in issue and when nationalism has to play an essential part in the role of developing country, though the basic technicality has an entry but they cannot be allowed to govern or dominate primal or pivotal factors. Every citizen should remember that every word, deed and thought by him has to be indicative of the respect for the Constitution and the national anthem. No one is permitted to pave the path of deviancy and introduce the theory totalistic individualism in the name of freedom of expression.




[i] Justice Kurian Joseph- sitting Judge, Supreme Court, in his speech

[ii] AIR 1987 SC 748

[iii] AIR 2003 MP 233

[iv] WRIT PETITION(s)(civil) NO. 855/2016

[v] 36 U.S. CODE 301


Other references:

  1. Constituent Assembly Debate
  2. constitution of India
  3. All India Reporter
  4. www.indiacelebrating .com







About Anupam Shukla

Learner II Law Student II Political Philosophy II Cricket fan II

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