Cutting cake that has a national flag does not amount to insulting the national flag

On Monday, the Madras High Court ruled that cutting a cake with a tricolour map and Ashoka Chakra cannot be termed as insulting or unpatriotic under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.

Hon’ble Justice N Venkatesh proceeded to quash the criminal proceedings initiated by a Magistrate in a 2013 cake-cutting incident. He observed that the symbolisation of National pride is not synonymous with patriotism, and therefore cutting a cake is cannot be considered unpatriotic.

Background:

On 25.12.2013, a cake with the tricolour Indian Map and Ashoka Chakra was cut and was distributed to over 2500 guests. Deputy Commissioner of Police, District Collector of Coimbatore and other officials, attended the event.

A complaint was filed by a person who stated that cutting the cake was an offence u/s 2 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.

However, the State challenged the complaint and submitted that they had requisite permission for the event and procedural irregularities involved in the Magistrate’s direction.

The Court agreed with the State’s contention and remarked that the magistrate’s procedure was illegal and it cannot use its power u/s 156(3) of CrPC at the pre-cognisance stage.

Hon’ble Court opined that a gross physical Act could not determine patriotism, and the court has the gauge the intention behind it. Therefore the Court opined that people who attended the function did not want to bring down the nation’s pride.

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The Court added that if such a broad meaning is given to the world insult, people will become uncomfortable when handling the flag.

As per the Court, the Flag Code provides a mechanism on how to destroy the flag in private in a dignified way. As many people are not aware of this mechanism, it cannot be said that they have committed an offence.

The Court quashed the criminal proceeding and opined that people should not initiate criminal action to get publicity.

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