[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition seeking to declare “Vande Mataram” a national song at par with the national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”.
The two-judge bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said that it found no reason to entertain the petition while exercising its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution.
In his petition, BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay contended that “Vande Mataram” written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee should be given as much respect as the national anthem “Jana Gana Mana” written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
“It is the duty of every Indian to show respect when the two songs are played, recited or sung,” Upadhyay said in his petition while seeking directions to the Central Government to ensure that both songs are sung in all schools in the country on every working day.
Madras High Court on Vande Mataram
In 2017 a single judge of the Madras High Court ordered that Vande Matarambe played and sung in all schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions at least once a week, preferably on a working day, and that the song be played and sung in all government offices and institutions, private companies, factories and industries at least once a month. The judge also directed the Director of Public Information to upload and circulate the translated versions of the song in Tamil and English and to make it available on government websites and on social media.
However, in October 2017 a two-judge bench set aside the order saying, it was a policy decision to be taken by the state and leaving it to the discretion of the government to take a decision in the matter.
Article 51A(a) of the Constitution does not refer to a “National Song”
Also in 2017, Upadhyay, the petitioner in the Delhi High Court in this instance, had filed a petition before the Supreme Court to direct the Central Government to frame a national policy under Article 51 a of the Constitution to promote and propagate the national anthem, the national flag and a national song.
A three-judge bench, comprising then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Mohan M Shantangoudar, held that there was no mention of a national song in Article 51A(a) of the Constitution of India and that it only referred to a national flag and national anthem. “Therefore we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the national song is concerned,” the apex court had held.
The court had at that time also rejected Upadhyay’s prayer that the singing and playing of the national anthem be made compulsory in public offices, courts, and Parliament, but it “kept alive” the prayer that schools should play or sing the national anthem on working days.