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PIL filed in Delhi HC seeking equal honour to Vande Mataram as Jana Gana Mana

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A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in Delhi High Court seeking direction that “the song ‘Vande Mataram’, which had played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with ‘Jana-Gana-Mana’ and shall have equal status with it in spirit of the Statement made by the Constituent Assembly Chairman Dr. Rajendra Prasad with regard to the National Anthem, on 24.01.1950.

The PIL filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay as In-Person further seeks direction to the Centre and State Government to ensure that ‘Jana-Gana-Mana’ and ‘Vandemataram’ is played and sung in all schools and educational institutions on every working day and to frame guidelines in spirit of the Constituent Assembly Resolution dated 24.01.1950 read with the Judgment passed by the Madras High Court and Supreme Court of India.

According to the PIL , on 24.01.1950, Constituent Assembly Chairman Dr. Rajendra Prasad said: “There is one matter which has been pending for discussion, namely the question of the National Anthem. At one time, it was thought that the matter might be brought up before the House and a decision taken by the House by way of a resolution. But it has been felt that, instead of taking a formal decision by means of resolution, it is better if I make a statement with regard to the national anthem. Accordingly, I make this statement.

Composition consisting of the words and music known as ‘Jana Gana Mana’ is the ‘National Anthem of India’, subject to such alternations in the words, as the Government may authorize as occasions arises; and the song ‘Vande Mataram’, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy the members.”

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It is submitted that our Constitution is the result of commitments, promises and pledges made by the framers to the people. It embodies effort at reconciliation, accommodation and compromise. ‘Vandemataram’ is the symbol of our history, sovereignty, unity and pride. If any citizen by any overt or covert act shows disrespect to it, it would not only be an anti-social activity but it would also spell doom to all our rights and very existence as a citizen of a sovereign nation. Every citizen must therefore not only refrain from any such activities but also do his best to prevent any miscreant trying to show any disrespect to ‘Vandemataram’. We must be proud of our Nation, our Constitution, National Anthem and National Flag and put national interest above our personal interests and only then will we be able to protect our hard-earned freedom and sovereignty. It is the duty of the executive to frame a national policy to promote and propagate ‘Vandemataram’.

The Petitioner highlighted,

“Vande Mataram is a poem, written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. It literally means I praise the Mother but the translation by Aurobindo is rendered as ‘I bow to the Mother’. It played a vital role in the Indian independence movement, and was first sung in a political context by Tagore at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. Chatterjee was very interested in the 1857 Revolt and Sanyasi Rebellion. At the same time, the administration was trying to promote ‘God Save the Queen’ as ‘National Anthem of India’, which Indian nationalists disliked. So, he wrote ‘Vande Mataram’ spontaneously using Sanskrit and Bengali words. It was published in the book ‘Anandamatha’ in 1882, which is set in the events of Sannyasi Rebellion. Jadunath Bhattacharya set the tune for this poem.”

Upadhyay further submitted that ‘Vande Mataram’ was the whole nation’s thought and motto for independence from the British during the independence movement. Large rallies, fermenting initially in major cities, work themselves up into a patriotic fervor by shouting the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’. The British, fearful of the potential danger of inciting the populace, at one point of time banned the utterance of ‘Vande Mataram’ at public places and imprisoned many independence activists for disobeying the proscription. Sh. Rabindranath Tagore sang ‘Vande Mataram’ in 1896 at the Calcutta Congress Session. Sh. Dakhina Charan Sen sang Vande Mataram five years later in 1901 in another Congress Session at Calcutta. Smt. Sarala Devi Chaudurani sang ‘Vande Mataram’ in Benares Congress Session in 1905. Sh. Lala Lajpat Rai started a journal called ‘Vande Mataram’ from Lahore.

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Sh. Hiralal Sen made India’s first political film in 1905, which ended with ‘Vande Mataram’. Smt. Matangini Hazra’s last words as the Police shot her to death was ‘Vande Mataram’. The first version of ‘National Flag’ created by Bhikaiji Cama in 1907, had ‘Vande Mataram’ written in its middle band. The book titled ‘Kranti Geetanjali’ published by Arya Printing Press (Lahore) and Bharatiya Press (Dehradun) in 1929 contains first two stanzas of ‘Vande Mataram’ on Page 11 as the ‘Matra Vandana’. The Ghazal ‘Vande Mataram’ composed by Pt. Ram Prasad Bismil is also written on its back, i.e. Page 12. The book was written by the famous martyr of Kakori Pandit Pt. Bismil was proscribed by the then British Government , the petition said.

It is alleged that on 05.09.2006, All India Muslim Personal Law Board Vice President Maulana Kalbe Sadiq asked: “Does ‘Vande Mataram’ mean salutation or worship?” The very next day on 6.9.2006, All India Sunni Ulema Board issued a fatwa saying that “Muslims can sing the first two verses of Vande Mataram ”. Board president Moulana Mufti Syed Shah Badruddin Qadri Aljeelani said: “If you bow at the feet of your mother with respect, it is not shirk but only respect.” Christian Priest Father Cyprian Kullu from Jharkhand also said: “The ‘Vande Mataram’ song is a part of our history and national festivity and religion should not be dragged into such mundane things. The ‘Vande Mataram’ is simply a National Song without any connotation that could violate the tenets of any religion.” Moreover, in 2002, BBC World Service conducted a worldwide poll to choose the best song. Around 7000 songs were selected and the ‘Vande Mataram’ from the movie ‘Anand Math’ was ranked second.

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The PIL stated that India is a Union of States and not association or confederation of States. There is only one nationality i.e. Indian and it is the duty of every Indian to respect the Vande Mataram. In order to keep the country united, it is the duty of the Government to frame a National Policy to promote-propagate ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and Vande Mataram. There is no reason why it should evoke any other sentiment as the both are decided by Constitution makers. The sentiments expressed in ‘Jana Gana Mana’ have been expressed keeping the State in view. However, sentiments expressed in ‘Vande Mataram’ denote the nation’s character and style and deserve similar respect. Sometimes Vande mataram is sung in such circumstances which are not permissible and can never be countenanced in law. It is the duty of every Indian to show respect when Vandemataram is played/sung.

“Vandemataram should not be utilized by the person involved with it directly or indirectly and shall have any commercial benefit. There shall not be dramatization of Vandemataram and it must not be included in any variety show because when Vandemataram is sung/played, it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of Vandemataram is inconceivable. It shall not be printed on any object and never be displayed in such a manner at such places, which may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect”, the PIL reads.

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