Karnataka minister says whether state should have a flag or not is a 'grey area'

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government, which is under fire for considering a flag for the state, on Wednesday said the issue of whether a state could have its own flag was a "grey area" as there was no mention of it in any of the Acts in the country.

Law Minister TB Jayachandra said the existing Acts referred only to the national flag.

"But whether the state should have a flag or not is a grey area," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

 Karnataka minister says whether state should have a flag or not is a grey area

Kannada activists with Karnataka's unofficial flag. PTI

The Karnataka government has formed a nine-member committee to submit a report on designing a flag for the state and "providing a legal standing for it", an official said on Tuesday.

The issue has kicked up a storm, with the state government coming under fire from various political parties and organisations. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had called it "anti-constitutional" and demanded the imposition of president's rule in Karnataka.

Jayachandra said the committee would weigh the pros and cons of having such a flag, but stressed the state wanted to be in the "mainstream" and did not want any "controversy".

Referring to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971; Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and Flag Code of India, the law minister said these Acts were for the national flag.

"A committee has already been constituted, it will also deliberate on this issue," he said.

The minister clarified that the issue did not come up for discussion at Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

Defending the move, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah had on Tuesday asked if there was any provision in the Constitution which prohibited states from having their own flags.

A Union home ministry official said in New Delhi on Tuesday there was no legal bar on a state having a separate flag but it would represent the people and not the government and said India as a nation had only one flag.

Stating that the committee would look into all aspects, Jayachandra said, "We want to be in the mainstream; we don't want to get involved in controversy."

Asked if there was anything in the constitution that barred a state from having a flag, Jayachandra said there was no mention about states in the three Acts.

"Whether it (flag) is needed or not is a policy matter, the pros and cons will be looked into by the committee before giving its report to the government," he said.

To a question on whether the pros and cons had not considered before the committee was set up, Jayachandra said discussions had happened at the departmental level and he would go through them in detail.

If Karnataka eventually decides to have a separate flag, it would be the only state to do so after Jammu and Kashmir, which enjoys a special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The committee, headed by the principal secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture, was set up last month following a representation from noted Kannada writer and journalist Patil Puttappa and social worker Bheemappa Gundappa Gadada.

Puttappa and Gadada in their representation had requested the government to design a separate flag for 'Kannada Naadu' and accord its legal standing.

The Siddaramaiah government's move to form a committee is being considered as a departure from the stand taken by the earlier BJP government.

The Sadananda Gowda-led BJP government had in 2012 informed the Karnataka High Court that it had not accepted suggestions to declare the bicolour 'Kannada flag' as the state's official flag, as having a separate flag would be "against the unity and integrity of the country".

The unofficial but widely seen red and yellow 'Kannada flag', hoisted across the state on 1 November every year to commemorate the state's formation day and used as a scarf by Kannada activists, was designed in the 1960s by Veera Senani (brave soldier) Ma Ramamurthy, who championed the cause of Kannada.

Updated Date: Jul 19, 2017 19:57:02 IST

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