File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

A Case That Evolved The Right To Silence On The Foothold Of Faith

The case of Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala is popularly also known as the National Anthem Case. This case went on to evolve the concept of the Right to Silence, which came to be included under the heading of freedom of speech. A landmark judgement of its time regained its popularity during the recent Hijab Ban case. Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia cited this case, stating that it squarely covered the Hijab Ban issue. This case was also cited in the case of Naveen Jindal v. Union of India (National Flag Case).

Since childhood, it has been taught to us to always respect the national flag and stand whenever we hear the national anthem being sung. The national anthem Jana Gana Mana written by Noble Laurette Rabindranath Tagore originally consisted of 5 stanzas. It was named "Bharoto Bhagya Bidhata", written in Sanskritized Bengali. It was later translated into Hindi by Captain Abid Ali. The present-day national anthem comprises only one of the five stanzas of the originally composed anthem.

The year 1986, in which the case was decided, is counted as the time when the judiciary was establishing its authority and independence. The judgement pronounced on the subject of religion was remarkable in itself, besides the fact that it also widened the scope of freedom of speech and expression and freedom of religion.

This case involves the recognition of a minority religious group called Jehovah's Witnesses. They believe in the concept of one God, and not the trinity of gods. Accordingly, they refuse to take an oath of allegiance to the King or other constituted human authority.

Case Analysis
The appellants-three children belong to a sect called Jehovah's Witnesses, who worship only Jehovah-the Creator and none other. They refused to sing the National Anthem: 'Jana Gana Mana' because, according to them, it is against the tenets of their religious faith, not the words or the thoughts of the National Anthem, but the singing of it.

The main issue was that the children refused to sing the national anthem but they stood respectfully. Their elder sisters used to do the same, and the school never raised any objections in the aforesaid matter. It was until a member of the legislative assembly noticed the same and objected to it.

Upon report furnished by the inquiry, it was told that the students possessed peaceful behaviour and were law-abiding citizens. Yet, the headmistress expelled the three children on the ground of disrespect to the national anthem

The appellants first approached the headmistress who communicated her helplessness in the matter, after which a writ was filed in the High Court, whose prayers were also rejected and finally appealed to the Supreme Court.

The case was presided over by Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy. The case was pronounced in the favour of appellants. He cited various American and Australian cases to support his decision. He also examined and answered on various points raised regarding Freedom of religion as provided under Articles 25 to 28 of the Indian Constitution.

He opined on the point that there is no provision of law that obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem nor is it disrespectful to the National Anthem, if a person who stands up respectfully when the National Anthem is sung, does not join the singing.

The court allowed their prayers and concluded the judgement with the quote:" Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our constitution practices tolerance; let us not dilute it."

Author's Note:
This is not the first time in judicial history when Jehovah's Witnesses had a conflict on point of law. A similar event happened in the United States of America, the case was named as West Virginia State Board Of Education v. Barnette. In a similar manner, school students were expelled for not saluting the flag. The court decided in the favor of children. There are multiple judicial decisions that have decided cases of the like manner in favor of Jehavoh's Witnesses.

The aforementioned minority, even though having very few followers, got recognisable status by the supreme court, even though other courts decided to grant against it. This case is a prominent example of judicial activism and how, even though the judge was bound to protect the integrity of the national anthem, decided to interrogate a deeper injustice being done to peaceful minority groups.

The following sites were referred to while crafting this analysis:

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly