Don’t you dare fly the Tricolour on your car!

New Delhi, January 25: | Updated: Jan 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
The government has bowed to the Supreme Court ruling freeing the citizen to fly the National Flag, but a subsequent executive order has lost no time in limiting the the use to ‘static mode’. Simply put, this means that you can fly the Tricolour on a flag staff atop your house or office, but you can’t do so on your vehicle. Reason A vehicle moves around in public, and the house doesn’t!

Asked why, a member of a high-level inter-ministerial committee that has generated detailed guidelines on the subject said the matter was debated extensively, before it was decided to leave this right limited to a select number of VIPs. “You may look at it from a variety of angles, but the fact is that a flag on a house isn’t the same as a flag on a car. On a car, a flag assumes a different proportion, from a symbol of your nationalism to a symbol of your status,” he said, requesting anonymity.

But hasn’t the apex court given complete freedom on the subject, so long as the

Tri colour isn’t insulted To this, the member said, “we felt complete freedom, if you will, has to be understood in the right context. Take the example of a beacon light outside your house or office. Nobody would have a problem with that. But put the same blue or red light atop a moving car, and it would assume a different proportion. You would be challaned! That’s what the police has been told to do now,” he argued.

But can’t a car be a static object too And what about someone putting the flag ‘inside’ his car and not on the bonnet Or in the form of a sticker Or atop a moving bicycle On each of these posers, the member laughed heartily, and then argued that there were indeed areas where a committee can’t provide all the answers. This hasn’t, however, stopped this panel from going into minutae like the length of flag staffs, and enshrining that in the midst of other flags, the Tricolour will have to perched a little higher. “The flag code has been liberalised, but reasonable restrictions remain,” the committee member said.

The list of dignitaries whose cars fly the Tricolour include the President, the vice president, the Prime Minister, governors and lieutenant governors of states, presiding officers of the central and state legislatures, and all central and state ministers. The three chiefs of armed forces don’t fly the National Flag on their cars, though these flags have a miniaturised Tricolour in one corner sewed to the flag of the concerned service. But as far as offices are concerned, even junior civil servants at sub-division level have taken to placing a National Flag behind their chairs. This is often evident when these officers give sound bites on television.

The said committee, whose report was ready since April last, though the details have been announced only now, included joint secretaries from defence, external affairs, culture, and law, and was presided over by home ministry special secretary PD Shenoy. It has added high court judges to the list of dignitaries who can fly the Tricolour on their cars.