Right to Fly National Flag of India | Fundamental Right
Right to Fly the national flag as a Fundamental right, was a landmark judgement passed by Supreme Court in the case of Union Of India vs Naveen Jindal & Anr on 23 January, 2004. Naveen Jindal, a prominent industrialist was the respondent for the case he was flying National Flag at the office premises of his factory. He was not allowed to do so by the Government officials on the ground that the same is impermissible under the Flag Code of India.
Questioning the said action, he filed a writ petition before the High Court, inter alia, on the ground that no law could prohibit flying of 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 High Court allowed the petition and held that the Flag code of India was not a valid restriction on the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. It also observed that, according to Article 19(2), the only valid limitations on this right were those that were contained in statute. In cases concerning the regulation of the flying of the national flag, such limitations could be found in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950 or the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971. The Union of India filed an appeal against this decision to the Supreme Court on the basis that whether citizens were free to fly the national flag was a policy decision, and could not be subject to court interference.
Justice Brijesh Kumar and Justice S.B. Sinha constituted the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Union of India. The court judgement was as below.
Right to fly the National Flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of a citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India.
The fundamental right to fly National Flag is not an absolute right but a qualified one being subject to reasonable restrictions under clause 2 of Article 19 of the Constitution of India;
The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 regulate the use of the National Flag ;