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Insights into Editorial: Should States have their own flags?

Insights into Editorial: Should States have their own flags?


The Karnataka state government recently set up a panel to explore if the state can have its own separate flag. The Panel includes bureaucrats and academics to advice on the legality of the issue and also suggest a design for the state flag.

The only state in India so far to have a separate state official flag is Jammu and Kashmir, which enjoys special status under Article 370 of Indian constitution.

Is there any provision in the constitution prohibiting a state from having its own flag? 

The Indian National flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of India.

Supreme Court said that here is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the state flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag.

Under the Constitution, a flag is not enumerated in the Seventh Schedule. However, Article 51A rules that every citizen shall abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag, and the national anthem.

Is it regulated under any parliamentary Act?

The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 regulates the hoisting of the national flag.

Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper use) Act 1950 prohibits the use of National Symbols for commercial use in India.

Under the 1971 Act, insulting the national flag by burning it, mutilating it, defacing it, is prohibited.

Even the Flag Code of India, 2002 does not impose prohibitions on a State flag. The Code expressly authorises the flying of other flags under the condition that they should not be hoisted from the same masthead as the national flag or placed higher than it.

By implication, the Code provides space for a State flag as long as it does not offend the dignity and honour of the national flag.

Can states have their own flags?

Assertion of regional identity has always been a tricky issue in a country as diverse as India.

People against state flags say that the tricolour binds India together and any move to allow states to have flags would reduce the standing of the national flag. Allowing one state to have its own flag could trigger demands from other states too.

Arguments in favour of the decision stresses on the fact that states in both Germany and USA have their own flags without any danger of their imminent disintegration.

The committee that is being setup has to look into legal ramifications of having a separate state flag. State government’s move to have a committee to look into the possibilities of having a state flag is anything that would amount to the threat of national integrity.

However, there should be clear rules that flag of state cannot be substitute of national flag and it should be smaller and fly lower.