Flag Code Of India, 2002: Guidelines to use our National Flag

Flag Code of India, 2002 is neither a statutory rule nor a statute or a regulation. It is a set of laws that provides instructions regarding the correct usage of the Flag of India. The code contains guidelines that are issued by the Government of India regarding the size, shape and colour of the Tricolour, the correct way of flying the National Flag and display of the National Flag on National or special days.

This Flag Code came into effect since 26 January, 2002 by superseding the 'Flag Code - India', the original flag code. The code was merged with the following acts: Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 (No.69 of 1971) and the Provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (No.12 of 1950). In the words of Advocate B M Birajdar, "The Flag Code of India 2002 allows unrestricted display of the Tricolour that is consistent with the dignity and honour of the National Flag".

Once a person in Madhya Pradesh was prohibited from flying the Tricolour at his factory premises by the officials of the state government in view of the Flag Code - India, that prohibited individuals from displaying the National Flag on private buildings, except on special occasions. The person challenged the validity of restrictions contained in the Flag Code - India, concerning the flying of the National Flag by private individuals, in the Delhi High Court. Accordingly amendments were made by the Delhi High Court in the Flag Code - India, regarding the flying and use of the National Flag. This paved the way for the Flag Code of India, 2002.

For the sake of simplicity the Flag Code of 2002 has been divided into three parts.

Part I of the code deals with general description of the National Flag. As per this code the National Flag shall be a tricolour panel comprising of three rectangular panels of identical widths. The colour of the top panel should be kesari (saffron) and the colour of the middle panel must be white, bearing the design of Ashoka Chakra at its centre. The colour of Ashoka Chakra shall be navy blue with 24 equally spaced spokes. Preferably, it should be screen printed or else stenciled or printed or properly embroidered and should be visible on both sides of the tricolour of India. The colour of the bottom panel should be green.

The Indian National Flag should be hand spun and hand woven cotton /wool/silk khadi bunting. It should be rectangular in shape and the ratio of the length to the width (height) should be 3:2. The flags with dimension 450x300 mm are used for aircrafts on VVIP flights, flags of 225x150 mm dimension are used for VVIP motor-cars and 150x100 mm sizes are used for table flags.

Part II of the Flag Code of India, 2002 gives emphasis to the display of the National Flag by members of educational institutions and private/public organizations.

Part III of the Code gives emphasis to the display of the National Flag by Central and State governments and their related agencies and organisations.

As per the Flag Code of 2002 the Tricolour can be flown at half-mast as a mark of mourning. The President of India decides the period of such mourning. On the event of the demise of the President, Vice-president or Prime Minister the Indian Flag is flown at half-mast throughout the country. In the case of the death of Chief Ministers, Governors and Lt. Governors the flag is raised at half-mast in the respective states or the Union Territories. When the flag is required to be flown at half mast, first it has to be elevated to the top of the mast and then lowered slowly.

Flag Code of India, 2002 also states that when the Indian National Flag is no longer fit for display, it has to be disposed of respectfully so as to uphold the dignity of the flag. Damaged or soiled flag should be "destroyed as a whole in private preferably by burning or by any other method consistent with the dignity of the flag". Paper flags should also be disposed of in a similar manner. Any individual, irrespective of his/her position, found disposing of the Indian Tricolour in a disrespectful manner will be liable to severe punishment.

Our Indian National Flag is the icon of our national pride. It symbolises the aspirations and hopes of the people of India. So as responsible Citizens of India let us duly comply with the set of instructions as specified in the Flag Code of India, 2002 to preserve the honour, dignity and pride of our National Tricolour.

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