The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has held that not standing up for the national anthem or not singing it might disrespect and fail to adhere to fundamental duties as mentioned in the Constitution. However, the Bench clarified that the same was not an offence under the prevention of insult of the National Honour Act.
Hon’ble Justice Sanjeev Kumar quashed an FIR against a college lecturer who alleged;y disrespected the National Anthem in a function on September 29 2018, for celebrating the surgical strike conducted by the Indian Army.
According to the Court, the conduct of the individuals during the National Anthem would amount to disrespect, but it will not constitute an offence u/s 3 of the Act.
It clarified that mere disrespect to the National Anthem was not an offence per se, but if a person prevents the singing of the national anthem or causes a disturbance, then it would be an offence u/s 3 of the Act.
A case u/s 3 of the Act was registered against the petitioner after students protested against him and alleged that the accused disrespected the National Anthem. The FIR was registered after the students approached the concerned SDM and requested him to intervene in the case.
Before the Hon’ble High Court, the petitioner contended that the SDM did not have the power to order police to register an FIR, and if he had the power, no offence would have been made out.
Court’s Observation and Order:-
The Bench opined that a reading of Section 156 and 154 of CrPC shows that SDM has the power to direct the investigation of a case, and it also includes the power to direct the authorities/police to register an FIR.
The Bench further opined that not standing up for the national anthem or staying quiet when its song might amount to disrespect to the national anthem, but it would not constitute an offence u/s 3 of the Act.
Accordingly, the Court opined that contents of the FIR would not constitute a cognisable offence and the SDM’s observations were an afterthought.