Why displaying national flag wrongly on car or bike could land you in jail

Every year, closer to August 15 when India celebrates its Independence Day, private vehicles with national flags hoisted on them is a common sighting on the roads. But amid the festive fervour, one often forgets that there are certain rules about the tricolour, and that it cannot be mounted anywhere one pleases to. One seldom remembers that such an act is a punishable offence under India's National Flag Code, and can land one in jail if booked for the offence. Before you head out on the roads on India's 75th Independence Day, here is a look at the reasons why it is a punishable offence.

Hoisting India's national flag wrongly on private vehicles is a punishable offence under the India Flag Code. (HT_PRINT)
Hoisting India's national flag wrongly on private vehicles is a punishable offence under the India Flag Code.

The India Flag Code rule says that only a few constitutional heads have the special privilege to fly the national flag on their vehicles. These dignitaries include the President and Vice President of India, Governors and Lieutenant Governors, Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers, Chief Minister and state Cabinet Ministers. Among others are Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chairman and Vice Chairman of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Speakers of Legislative Assemblies and Councils, Chief Justice of India, Judges of Supreme Court, Chief Justices and Judges of High Court and Speakers of Indian Missions Posts abroad.

Citizens are allowed to display their nationalistic fervour by hoisting tricolour at home or carrying them in hand. But hoisting one on private vehicles wrongly is an offence. The violation of the India Flag Code is punishable under the Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971. According to the Section 3.23 which lists out what are the misuses of national flag display, it says, “The flag shall not be draped over the hood, top, sides, and back of a vehicle, train or boat."

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Under Section 3.12 which talks of correct display of national flag, it says, “When the Flag is displayed alone on a motor car, it shall be flown from a staff, which should be affixed firmly either on the middle front of the bonnet or to the front right side of the car."

Misuse of national flag, or anyone who ‘burns, mutilates, defaces, difiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or 1 [otherwise shows disrespect to or brings] into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) 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.’

The rule also says, "The disrespect to the Indian National Flag means and includes— (a) a gross affront or indignity offered to the Indian National Flag."

First Published Date: 15 Aug 2022, 10:15 AM IST
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