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Debate continues over National Anthem as ringtone

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Debate continues over National Anthem as ringtone

A day after exchange4media reported on the BSNL notice to Rediff for alleged violation of the terms and conditions of the mutual agreement by providing National Anthem as ringtone to its subscribers, it was found that several portals are actually providing ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as ringtones through their SMS services.

Ironically, even after the controversy and the BSNL notice, Rediff is continuing to provide the National Anthem as a ringtone under its 7333 SMS service (Polyphonic Code-2088, Song Tunes Code-TT 12724).

Sify (Code-111317), Indiatimes (Code 7642), and Phoneytunes.Com (Code 1114) are among the many other portals, who are are also providing ringtones under the name ‘Jana Gana Mana.’ Though their ringtones bore no resemblance to the original Indian National Anthem music, still providing a ringtone under the same name was an insult to the National Anthem, experts maintained.

When contacted, Pavan Duggal, India’s foremost authority on cyber law, said, “Nobody can use the National Anthem for commercial benefits, and playing it as a ringtone amounts to insult to the same.”

He maintained that the law was not very clear about the culpability of such a crime. “Neither the Indian Penal Code nor Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971 could have foreseen such a development. Even the IT Act, 2000 did not expect it to happen.”

The Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971 only says, “Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian National Anthem or causes disturbance to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

The new amended Flag Code of India, 2002 also does not specify any punishment for insulting the Naitonal Anthem. “On all occasions when the pledge is taken, the pledge will follow the National Anthem. When taking the pledge, the assembly will stand to attention and the headmaster will administer the pledge ceremoniously and the assembly will repeat it after him,” the Flag Code of India, 2002 states.

Taking a clue from the above Act, Duggal maintained, “National Anthem has to be sang on distinct platforms and with due respect. Playing it as a ringtone does not show anybody’s patriotism but amounts to violation of the Duty of the citizen under Article 51(A), which expects the citizens to show respect to the National Flag and National Anthem.”

Disagreeing with him, R Ramraj, MD, Sify, stressed, “Playing the ringtone of the National Anthem is a way of popularising the song. It’s a patriotic act for a citizen of this country. It’s in no way disrespectful.”

However, Duggal felt otherwise. “The National Anthem is something sacrosanct. If anybody has to show his patriotism, he can play the innumerable number of patriotic songs available as ringtones, but not the National Anthem. The law should be amended in this effect plugging the loopholes and it should be made a culpable crime,” he affirmed.


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