New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre's stand on a plea seeking directions for 'Vande Mataram' - a poem written in Bengali by Bankim Chand Chatterjee and included in his 1882 novel Anandmath - to be "honoured equally" with 'Jana Gana Mana' and be given an "equal" status.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay sought direction to respondents, including the Central government and Delhi government to ensure that 'Jana Gana Mana' and 'Vande Mataram' are played and sung in all schools and educational institutions on every working day.
Issuing notice in the matter, a division bench presided over by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta directed the central government to file its response within six weeks.
After hearing the submissions of Upadhyay, the bench posted the matter for November 9.
During the course of the hearing, the petitioner submitted that there are no guidelines and 'Vande Mataram' is being played in distorted manner which is contrary to the statement made by Dr Rajendra Prasad in the Constituent Assembly.
The PIL contended that on January 24, 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 authorise as occasions arise; 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."
The plea stated that 'Vande Mataram' 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 if any miscreant tries to show any disrespect to 'Vande Mataram'.
"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 'Vande Mataram'," it read.
'Vande Mataram' has remained a bone of contention between the hyper-nationalistic sangh parivar and whose mother Bharat concept is made use of by their rank and file to provoke Muslim community for whom worshipping anything other than God is unacceptable, whereas 'Vande Mataram' contains polytheistic lines like worship of the mother land and bowing to national goddess.
(With inputs from IANS)