Terming patriotism “an essential requirement for every citizen”, the Madras High Court on Tuesday, 25 July, made the singing of the National Song, Vande Mataram, compulsory
- in schools and universities for at least once a week and
- in private companies and industries at least once a month.
In its order, the Court said, “The Director of Public Information is directed to upload and circulate the translated version of “Vande Mataram” in Tamil and English thereby making it available in the Government websites and also in social media.”
Delivering the judgement, Justice MV Muralidharan said that we have become so busy with our own lives that we have sometimes forgotten the nation. “Patriotism,” he wrote, “is an essential requirement for every citizen of this country. The fact that this country is our Motherland should always be remembered by every citizen of this country. Several people have sacrificed their lives and families to the independent struggle that prolonged for several decades. In these tough times, it was songs like our national song “Vande Matharam” which created a sense of belief and confidence in the people.”
The Court also added that in the event any person/organisation has difficulty in singing or playing the National Song, he or she shall not be compelled or forced to sing it, provided there are valid reasons for not doing so.
The case involved a petition filed by K Veeramani, who had approached the High Court over the question “In what language was Vande Mataram first written?” Veeramani approached the Court after his answer “Bengali” in a Teachers Recruitment Board examination had cost him a position as a teacher in a Tamil Nadu government school. He had reportedly scored 89 marks as against the cut off of 90, and had thus lost out on the teaching position.
Veeramani was awarded the one mark after the Tamil Nadu government accepted that Vande Mataram was originally written in Bengali.
The Court’s order read:
“From the perusal of the materials produced before this Court, that the song “Vande Mataram” was originally penned down as “Bondey Matorom” by Bongkim Chondro Chottoapadhyay in Bengali. It was later translated to Sanskrit as “Vande Mataram”. Though Sanskrit has been used in the song a cursory perusal of all relevant records produced would reveal that the native language in which the song was written in Bengali.”
The High Court’s verdict comes eight months after the Supreme Court ruled that the National Anthem must be compulsorily played before movies in cinema halls and the audience was to stand up in respect for the same. Additionally, the apex court issued a notice to the centre in April regarding a petition that asked the government to make singing Vande Mataram mandatory in schools.