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.
The court was hearing a plea 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. Senthilkumar had filed a complaint after a 6×5 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.
A Single Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh observed that Patriotism is not determined by a gross physical act. The intention behind the act will be the true test, and it is possible that sometimes the very act itself manifests the intention behind it.
While allowing the State’s application for quashing of criminal proceedings, the bench further observed:
“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. The great jurist, late Mr. N.A. Palkhivala pointed out, “we commenced with one priceless advantage, namely, 5000 years of civilisation behind us, a civilisation in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson “reached the summit of human thoughts”. A patriot is not one who only raise s 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. Rig Veda asks us to let noble thoughts come to us from every side, which reflects Indian ethos, i.e. tolerance. As Rabindranath Tagore once remarked, “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.”