The high court on Monday directed the central and state governments, the Indian cricket board and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) to ensure that the National Flag Code was not violated during cricket matches and other events.
The division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed the governments to take all possible measures to make people aware of the code. “The Constitution has given high respect to our national flag and a code has been made for the use of the flag. It is a matter of sorrow that this code is not maintained during cricket matches and other events,” observed the bench.
This means spectators at the Eden Gardens will no longer be able to wear the Tricolour as bandanna. They will have to carry the flag into the stadium folded — since police have been taking away the flagpole as a precautionary measure — and treat it with reverence while watching a match. The police will have to watch out for and prevent disrespect shown to the national flag.
The flag code, formulated in 1948, does not say anything about body art depicting the Tricolour. So someone with the Tricolour painted on his body, like Sachin Tendulkar fan Sudhir Gautam who is a regular at Team India matches with a conch shell in one hand and a huge Indian flag in the other, will escape cop scrutiny. The court directive was on the basis of a PIL by Kamal De, the editor of a publication. He submitted photographs showing people watching cricket matches at the Eden Gardens with the Tricolour tied on their heads and wrapped around them. Some photographs showed spectators sitting on flags.
According to De, he had sent similar photographs to CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya after the recent India versus England Test at Eden and requested him to ensure that similar incidents did not happen again.
“Copies of the letter were sent to the home departments of the central and state governments. In response, a home ministry official wrote to the CAB president and the state home secretary asking them to take steps to prevent disrespect of the national flag during matches,” De told the court.
“But during the India-Pakistan ODI at Eden on January 3, the same things happened again and spectators were allowed to enter the ground with the national flag tied around their heads,” he added.
The petitioner claimed government officials too were flouting the code by keeping miniature national flags on their tables. “In the code, nine different sizes of the flag are specified. The smallest is 150mm x 100mm, the largest 63000mm x 42000m,” said De’s lawyer.
Dalmiya’s lawyer said: “Thousands of spectators watch matches. It is difficult for my client to identify those flouting the code or take penal action. The police should be asked to do the job.”
* The flag should be displayed completely spread out with the saffron stripe on top. If hung vertically, the saffron stripe should be to the left of those facing the flag with the hoist cord at the top.
* The Tricolour can only be of nine specific sizes.
*Flags cannot be used in moving private vehicles