Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of S.K. Seth, CJ and Vijay Kumar Shukla, J. dismissed a petition seeking orders for compulsory hoisting of National Flags on every public building every day. The petition was filed suggesting a change in the Flag Code of India, 2002 (FCOI).

The present petition was filed as pro bono publico seeking a direction to incorporate the suggestions made in representation regarding Flag hoisting on public buildings on all days in the FCOI. The grievance of the petitioner was that he had submitted a representation to the respondent-Union of India in this regard but till date, no heed had been paid to it.

The learned counsel for the petitioner, Shobha Menon along with Rahul Choubey, urged that the National Flag should be hoisted at all polling booths on the date of voting. He has made further suggestions that the National Flag should be hoisted on certain specific dates as well, i.e., 30th January – the date when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated; 13th April – when massacre of freedom-fighters took place at Jaliawala Bagh in which almost 379 people lost their lives; 23rd March – when three freedom fighters Shahid Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged. Other suggestions for the hoisting of the National Flag were, on the demises of constitutional dignitaries and eminent personalities in various fields of the society, at schools and prominent government buildings etc. In substance, the petitioner’s prayer is that these suggestions directed to be incorporated in the FCOI by considering his representation.

Court reiterated the judgment in Union of India v. Naveen Jindal, (2004) 2 SCC 510 in which the respondent was stopped from flying the National Flag atop his factory. Before the High Court, he contended that no law could prohibit the flying of the National Flag by Indian citizens. Flying of National Flag with respect and dignity being a fundamental right, the Flag Code which contains only executive instructions of the Government of India and, thus, being not a law, cannot be considered to have imposed reasonable restrictions in respect thereof within the meaning of Clause (2) of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. The Apex Court held that right to fly the National Flag is a fundamental right but subject to restrictions.

The Court held that there is no mandate in the Flag Code that the National Flag should be hoisted on all days on the public buildings. The matter was thus disposed of, observing that no directions can be issued as prayed for by the petitioner. However, the petitioner was granted liberty to pursue his representation before an appropriate legal forum in accordance with law.[Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 858, decided on 26-04-2019]

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