Amendment to the 2002 Flag Code of India

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    In News

    • The Union government has allowed manufacture and import of machine-made polyester national flags by amending the 2002 Flag Code of India.

    History

    • The Indian flag was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on July 22, 1947.
    • The first national flag, which consisted of three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, at the Parsee Bagan Square, near Lower Circular Road, in Calcutta.
    • Later, in 1921, freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya met Mahatma Gandhi and proposed a basic design of the flag, consisting of two red and green bands.
    • After undergoing several changes, the Tricolour was adopted as our national flag at a Congress Committee meeting in Karachi in 1931.

    Flag Code of 2002

    • In 2002, the Flag Code of India came into effect which allowed the unrestricted display of the Tricolour as long as the honour and dignity of the flag were being respected.
    • The flag code did not replace the pre-existing rules governing the correct display of the flag; it was, however, an effort to bring together all the previous laws, conventions and practices.
    • The Flag Code of 2002 is divided into three parts:
      • A general description of the tricolour.
      • Rules on display of the flag by public and private bodies and educational institutions.
      • Rules for display of the flag by governments and government bodies.

    Recent Changes made

    • The rules earlier permitted only flags made by “hand-spun and woven wool or cotton or silk khadi bunting” while the import of machine-made flags was banned in 2019.
      • A recent revision to the flag code stated, “The National Flag shall be made of hand spun and hand woven or machine made, cotton, polyester, wool, silk khadi bunting.”

    Early rules governing the display of the Tricolour

    • The earliest rules for the display of the national flag were originally governed by the provisions of The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
    • The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 prohibits the desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the national flag, the Constitution, the national anthem and the Indian map.
    • The Section 2 of the Act says, “Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon into contempt the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
    • Among the other acts which are considered to be of disrespect to the national flag are dipping the Tricolour in salute to any person or thing, waving it at half-mast except on specific occasions, or using it as a drapery in any form whatsoever, except in state funerals or for the last rites of armed forces or other paramilitary forces.
      • Putting any kind of inscription upon the flag, using it to cover a statue, a monument or platform, and embroidering or printing it on cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins or any dress material is also considered disrespect to the Tricolour, according to the Act.
      • The flag should not be allowed to touch the ground or trail in water, or be put up in an inverted manner.

    Restrictions on the display of the Tricolour according to the flag code

    • It states that there will be no restriction on the display of the flag by public and private bodies and educational institutions except to the extent as laid down in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
    • It mentions that the tricolour cannot be used for commercial purposes, and cannot be dipped in salute to any person or thing.
    • Among the things which are not allowed is putting up a damaged or dishevelled flag, flying the tricolour from a single masthead simultaneously with other flags, and no other object, including flowers or garlands, or flag should be placed on the same height beside the tricolour or above it.
    • The flag should not be used as a festoon, or for any kind of decoration purposes.
    • Any paper flags, which are used on occasions of national and cultural occasions or sporting events, should not be casually discarded and must be disposed of in private.
    • For official display, only flags that conform to the specifications as laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards and bearing their mark can be used.

    Issues

    • For a flag to be hoisted at a height, its material needs to be tough and wind-resistant.
      • In the past, one of the country’s tallest tricolours, near the India-Pakistan border at Attari, was not hoisted for several months due to damage caused to the flag by high velocity wind.
    • The knitted polyester outdoor flags are easily available on e-commerce websites while the government has cautioned against use of plastic national flags.

    Significance of the Code

    • The move provides relief for damages caused to mammoth flags which are not lowered at the sunset and are adequately illuminated during the night.
    • In 2009, the MHA granted permission for the national flag to fly day and night on public and private institutions and buildings.
    • A member of the public, a private organization or an educational institution may hoist or display the National Flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise consistent with the dignity and honour of the National Flag.
    • To inspire respect for the flag, the code suggests that the “National Flag may be hoisted in educational institutions – schools, colleges, sports camps, scout camps.

    Source: ET