In a 'patriotic' hearing, the Madras High Court on Monday ruled that cutting a cake that has the Tricolour and Ashoka Chakra design on it is neither unpatriotic nor an “insult” under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
As per a report in Bar and Bench, the court was hearing a petition filed by D Senthilkumar alleging that cutting a cake that carried a representation of the Tricolour amounted to an offence under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 (Section 2 penalises an insult to the Indian flag and Constitution of India with imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine or both).
A 6x5 feet cake with the Tricolour and the Ashoka Chakra on it was cut, distributed and consumed by over 2,500 guests during a Christmas Day event in 2013, following which Senthilkumar had filed a complaint. The event was also attended by the District Collector of Coimbatore, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, and various other religious leaders and members from NGOs.
Quashing the criminal proceedings in his ruling, justice N Anand Venkatesh said, "“There is no doubt that nationalism in a democracy like India is very vital. But, hyper and surfeit adherence to it goes against the prosperity of our nation from all its past glory… A patriot is not one who only raises the flag, symbolises his national pride and wear it on his sleeve, but also, a person who bats for good governance. The symbolisation of national pride is not synonymous with patriotism, just like how cutting a cake is not unpatriotic.”
Citing Tagore's quote on nationalism, the court said, "Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.”
Stating those who attended the event back in 2013 did not in any way try to insult nationalism, the court also said, "“Will they be feeling great pride in belonging to this great nation, or would the pride of India have come down on the mere cutting of a cake during the celebration? Without any hesitation, this Court can hold that the participants would have felt only the former and not the latter.”
It further said that many people will become uncomfortable handling the Tricolour if ‘insult’ is accorded a broader definition.
“The National Flag is given during the function as a symbol of our national pride. Once such a feeling is created in the minds of the participants, the purpose for which the national Flag was given or used will be achieved…. The Flag Code does provide a mechanism to destroy flags in private, in a manner consistent with the dignity of the Flag, and as a responsible citizen, it should be followed in letter and spirit. Not all will be aware of this procedure, and therefore, that by itself will not make them susceptible to committing an offence under Section 2 of the Act,” the order said.