New Delhi, April 8: The Lok Sabha today passed a Bill seeking to widen the scope of the expression “insult” and provide for imprisonment for a term that shall “not be less than” one year for the second and subsequent offences for those showing disrespect to the national symbols — national flag, national anthem and the Constitution.
The Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Bill, introduced on March 7, will now go to the Rajya Sabha, probably in the third week of this month, for approval.
The Bill also proposed to amend the Act to insert the word “disrespect” to widen the scope of “insult”.
The scope was not considered wide enough under the earlier Act of 1971, which provided for imprisonment for a term that might extend to three years or a fine or both.
The Act had said: “Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, by acts) the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India or any part thereof....”
The objects and causes stipulated in the Bill are:
-Using the national flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever, except in state funerals or armed forces or other paramilitary forces funerals
-Using the national flag as a portion of costume or uniform of any description or embroidering or printing it on cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins or any dress material
-Putting any kind of inscription on the national flag
-Using the flag as a receptacle of receiving, delivering or carrying anything, except flower petals before the flag is unfurled as part of celebrations on special occasions, including Republic Day and Independence Day
-Using the flag as a covering for a statue or a monument or a speaker’s desk or a speaker’s platform
-Allowing the flag to touch the ground or the floor or trail in water intentionally
-Draping the flag over the hood, top and sides or back of or on a vehicle or on a vehicle, train, boat or an aircraft or any other similar object
-Using the flag as a covering for a building
-Intentionally displaying the flag with the “saffron” down
-Gross affront or indignity to the flag
-Dipping the national flag in salute to any person or thing
-Flying the flag at half-mast, except on occasions on which Indian national flag is flown at half-mast on public buildings in accordance with the instructions issued by the government
During a discussion on the Bill, minister of state for home I.D. Swami denied the three colours in the national flag symbolised any particular region. He said their significance originated from the nation’s heritage.
Initiating the debate on the Bill, the Congress’ J.S. Brar urged the Centre to make legal provisions so that the national anthem’s rendition is made compulsory in schools and universities.
BJP’s Rasa Singh Rawat wanted Vande Mataram to be included in the Bill’s purview.