SC stays away from National Song debate, says will examine anthem only

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday did not go into the debate for making singing of the National Song mandatory in schools while clarifying that it has "kept alive" such a plea only for the National Anthem without expressing any view on it. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra referred to Article 51 A (a) of the Constitution and said it deals only with the National Anthem and the National Flag and not the National Song.

Supreme Court.

Supreme Court.

"Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned," the bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and Mohan M Shantanagoudar, said.

The bench, which was hearing a plea seeking a direction for framing of a policy to promote and propagate the National Anthem, the National Flag and the National Song, tagged the petition with another similar plea on the issue which is pending before it. Regarding the prayer seeking a direction to ascertain the feasibility of singing or playing the National Anthem and the National Song in Parliament or a state Assembly, public offices, courts and schools on every working day, the apex court said it would keep alive the prayer regarding schools
only.

"In the earlier writ petition, a contention was advanced by the Attorney General pertaining to schools and, therefore, as far as the prayer relating to 'schools on every working day' is concerned, it is kept alive," the bench said. "We may hasten to clarify when we have kept the prayer alive, that does not mean that we have expressed any opinion on the same," the apex court said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was appearing for petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, said that one of the prayers in the plea for framing of a national policy was similar to the matter which is pending before the apex court. The bench, which pursued the order passed by it in the similar matter earlier, said that its order does not relate to the National Song or the National Flag.

"Be it clearly noted, Article 51A(a) of the Constitution of India does not refer to the National Song. It only refers to the National Flag and the National Anthem," it noted.

During the hearing, Singh argued that it is a matter which the government should look into as "even our legislators do not know what is the National Anthem and what is the National Song". "It should be a part of the curriculum in schools. There should be a feel of patriotism among the children," he said.

The apex court had on 30 November last year ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the National Anthem before screening of a movie when the audience must stand and show respect.

The order had come on the PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the National Anthem should be played in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and proper norms and protocol be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

The apex court, while passing a slew of directions, had also observed that "time has come when citizens must realise they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the National Anthem which is a symbol of constitutional  patriotism and inherent national quality".

The apex court had last week clarified that the audience need not stand when the National Anthem is sung or played in the storyline of a feature film or part of a newsreel or documentary.