Hoisting of tricolour after sunset is no offence or insult: HC

Keeping the national flag hoisted after the sunset is not an offence and such an act does not amount to insult to the tricolour, the Chhattisgarh High Court has held.

The court said a private individual cannot be prosecuted only on the allegation that the flag was not lowered after the sunset and any action can be taken after it is proved that there was disrespect shown to it in any other form.

The ruling was passed on a petition filed by two employees of Raigarh-based Jindal Power Ltd (JPL) seeking quashing of the FIR filed against them under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act for allegedly insulting the national flag by keeping it hoisted even after sunset.

The HC said keeping hoisted the flag after the sunset also was not in violation of the provisions under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act.

Deciding the case in favour of JPL, Justice Dhirendra Mishra said "keeping in view that the only allegation against the petitioners is that they did not lower the national flag, which was hoisted in their premisese at flag post, and the penal provisions contained in the Act, I am of the opinion that no commission of offence is disclosed from the allegations present in the FIR".

The High Court said the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Raigarh, was not justified in not accepting the final report of the police probe pointing out that no offence was made out.
The national flag was kept hoisted at the JPL Tanmar at Raigarh in Chattisgarh, after which an FIR was registered against the company's management in 2008 alleging insult to the tricolour.

Navin Jindal, Executive Vice-Chairman of the company and Lok Sabha MP, said the verdict by the High Court is very timely and has come ahead of the Independence Day which will help the citizens to fly the flag without any fear.

"I am very happy. It is a landmark judgement because it will take the fear out of people's mind about the national flag not being lowered at night. It will not amount to any kind of disrespect to the tricolour and no punitive action can be taken," he told PTI while reacting to the High Court verdict.

On a petition filed by Jindal, the Supreme Court had on January 23, 2004, had said that displaying the national flag was a fundamental right of all citizens.

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