SRINAGAR, June 15: The High Court today asked the state government to ensure that sanctity of the state flag is maintained and provisions of Jammu and Kashmir prevention of insult to state honours Act, 1979 is acted upon in letter and spirit. The court has also asked the government to come clear on its definite stand on withdrawal of a circular that was issued by it on the subject on March 12.
In a petition filed on the matter by Abdul Qayoom Khan, Justice Husnain Masoodi has directed: “…Let respondents come up with a clear and definite stand by the next date of hearing (July 1). In the meantime, respondents to ensure that sanctity of the state flag is maintained and provisions of J&K prevention of insult to state honours act, 1979 acted upon in letter and spirit.”
In his petition, Khan has said that the State Government vide Circular number 13-GAD of 2015 directed the authorities to maintain sanctity of State Flag at all costs and not to insult the flag that would attract provisions of J&K prevention of insult to State Honours Act 1979.
He has further pleaded that the circular was withdrawn on the next day vide circular 14-GAD leading to an inference that whatever was stated in circular number 13 was not intended to be followed and room left for no adherence of constitutional provisions and J&K prevention of insult to state honours act.
The petitioner has insisted that circular number 14 amounts to violation of the provisions of act and therefore punishable under law. He in this regard has refered to background material like press clippings appended to the petition that according to the petitioner has lead to the impugned circular.
On March 13 a day after issuing a circular that made it mandatory for all constitutional authorities to use the state flag on their official vehicles, the PDP-led coalition government withdrew the circular with immediate effect.
The government had said the draft of the circular was not approved by the “competent authority” before it was issued on March 12. An official spokesman said appropriate administrative action would be taken after an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the issuing of the circular.
On March 12, Commissioner Secretary, General Administration Department (GAD), had issued a circular, saying: “As per the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 and keeping in view the historical background, the state flag has the same sanctity and position as the Union Flag has under the Indian Constitution and other statutory provisions. Therefore, this sanctity and position has to be maintained at all costs.”
The circular had further stated that “all the constitutional authorities are enjoined upon to maintain the sanctity of the state flag at all costs, as is being done in respect of the Union Flag. The flag shall always be hoisted jointly (with the National Flag) on the buildings housing constitutional institutions and shall be used on the official cars of constitutional authorities. Any deviation in this regard shall amount to insult to the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Insult to State Honors Act, 1979”.
The official spokesman while withdrawing the circular had later said the state government was pursuing since December 11, 2013, a court case in the J&K High Court wherein Khan had prayed for a direction that the Republic Day of J&K should be celebrated when the state constitution was adopted.
2015 Kashmir Despatch