Reciting anthem is not same as singing it, says Mumbai court while junking complaint against Mamata Banerjee

Reciting the national anthem is not the same thing as singing it, a court here has held while dismissing a complaint filed by a BJP worker accusing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of disrespecting the anthem at a program.

Further, in the video of the event Banerjee is not seen abruptly leaving during the singing of the anthem as alleged, metropolitan magistrate (Mazgaon court) S B Kale said while dismissing the complaint on Monday. The detailed order became available on Wednesday.

`Singing’ and `reciting certain words or lines’ of the national anthem are two different things and cannot be equated with each other. Otherwise, a teacher or a speaker explaining it to an audience will be held responsible for disrespecting the anthem, the court said.

To prosecute such a person was not the intention of the legislature when the law was enacted, it said.

BJP worker Vivekanand Gupta had approached the magistrate’s court with a complaint, alleging that Banerjee did not stand up when the anthem was played at an event during her visit to Mumbai in December 2021.

He accused her of disrespecting the national anthem and requested the court to direct the police to register a First Information Report against her under the Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act.

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The court, in its order, said, “After watching the portion of video (submitted by the complainant) having duration of 17 to 19 seconds, I find that at the relevant time the accused is seen reciting some words out of the National Anthem.”

The video did not show that Banerjee was singing the anthem or she ever tried to sing it, it said.

Moreover, the accused is not seen abruptly stopping the singing of the national anthem or leaving the venue, it noted

The court also stated that the complainant produced only the video footage running from 17 to 19 seconds and did not produce any material to show in which context Banerjee recited lines of the anthem. No efforts were made by the complainant to procure detailed video footage of the event, it added.

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