Antipatory Bail in The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 – in Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh

Overview of The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971

The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, was established to guard against offenses related to national symbols of India, such as the National Flag, the Constitution, and the National Anthem. This Act embodies the respect and dignity attached to symbols that are central to the identity and sovereignty of the Republic of India. Often referred to as the ‘National Honour Act’, its provisions are designed to ensure that the Indian symbols of sovereignty are not subject to insult or disrespect, intentionally or otherwise.

Under this Act, the display, expression, or conveyance of any insult to the Indian National Flag and the Constitution of India is prohibited. Similarly, it seeks to protect the integrity of the National Anthem by prescribing the correct protocol to be followed during its rendition or play. The Act lays down strict guidelines that forbid any form of desecration or disrespect towards these emblems as well as prescribes punishment for individuals found guilty of such offenses, which can include imprisonment, a fine, or both.

This legislation reflects the collective sentiment of the population that holds immense pride in the nation’s symbols. It is pivotal in nurturing the spirit of patriotism and nationalism among the citizens. While it upholds the sanctity of national symbols, it also acknowledges the instances where unintentional disrespect needs to be distinguished from deliberate intent to insult. Thereby, it serves as a tool to both penalize wrongful acts and educate the citizenry about the importance of national symbols.

Importantly, the Act also allows for legal proceedings to be initiated against offenders, which may lead to trials in court where the principles of natural justice are applied. This means the accused has the opportunity to defend themselves and present their case before a judge, maintaining the rule of law and ensuring that the rights of individuals are also preserved within the framework that seeks to protect national honour.

Application and Granting of Anticipatory Bail in Punjab and Haryana High Court

The High Court of Punjab and Haryana, being one of the prominent legal institutions, plays a significant role in the application and granting of anticipatory bail. In the context of The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, the process for securing anticipatory bail becomes particularly sensitive and crucial due to the national sentiments involved. Anticipatory bail is a provision under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code, allowing a person to seek a pre-arrest order from the High Court or the Sessions Court on the apprehension of being arrested on accusation of having committed a non-bailable offense.

When an anticipatory bail application is filed in connection with offenses under the National Honour Act, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana evaluates the application with a heightened sense of scrutiny, considering the gravity of the accusation. The court delves into the particulars of the case, assesses the role, conduct, and intention of the applicant while allegedly disrespecting national symbols, and examines the potential for tampering of evidence, influencing witnesses, or flight from justice. One of the key areas of consideration is the likelihood of the applicant to commit any further offense that insults national honor while on bail.

The procedure for the application is initiated by filing a petition, supported by an affidavit, urging the court for relief. The petition includes details such as the nature and circumstances of the offense, personal information about the applicant, and the grounds for seeking anticipatory bail. Following the submission, the plea is open for contestation by the state’s prosecution which may challenge the bail application citing reasons for apprehension.

It is not uncommon for the High Court to impose certain conditions upon the grant of bail. These conditions revolve around:

  • Ensuring the applicant’s availability for investigation and trial proceedings;
  • Preventing the applicant from influencing witnesses or hamper the inquiry;
  • The requirement for the applicant to surrender their passport to prohibit them from leaving the country without prior permission from the court;
  • The mandate to not indulge in any activity that undermines the prestige of national symbols, adhering to the spirit of the National Honour Act.

In situations where anticipatory bail is granted, the individual is required to comply with the judicial orders diligently. Any breach of the conditions imposed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana can lead to the cancellation of the bail. Given the quasi-constitutional nature of the Act aimed at preserving the sanctity of national emblems, the judiciary’s approach in these matters remains stern and is reflective of the underlying respect for the nation’s symbols.

The High Court’s judgments are delivered after extensive deliberation and taking into account the overall public interest and the administration of justice. While granting anticipatory bail, the court also remains conscientious of setting a precedent that balances the individual’s personal liberty with society’s collective responsibility towards upholding national honor.

Judicial Precedents on Anticipatory Bail under the Act in Chandigarh

In Chandigarh, which serves as the capital city for both Punjab and Haryana and is under the jurisdiction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, there have been notable judicial precedents concerning anticipatory bail for offences under The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. These precedents not only influence the judicial procedures in this region but also offer a glimpse into the interpretation and enforcement of the law by the courts.

One relevant case that underscored the court’s stance on such matters involved an individual who was accused of disrespecting the national anthem. The court, while deliberating on the anticipatory bail application, carefully weighed the allegations against the constitutional rights of the person. In its judgment, the court emphasized respect for national symbols as fundamental to the ethos of the nation. However, it also recognized the importance of protecting the individual’s liberty until proven guilty, hence the grant of anticipatory bail came with specific conditions tailored to prevent any further disrespect or disregard towards national symbols.

  • The court assessed the applicant’s past record to ensure there was no precedent of similar conduct.
  • It sought to determine if the disrespect was a calculated act or a momentary lapse of judgment.
  • It inquired into the potential impact on society and whether it was a solitary act or had the potential to incite broader disrespect.
  • It studied the intentions behind the act to establish if there was any malicious effort to incite dissent or disharmony.

In another precedent from the same court, officials associated with an organization were seeking anticipatory bail after being charged with insulting the national flag. During the hearing sessions, the prosecution argued the seriousness of the offense, stating that granting bail might lead to demoralization in the society and encourage others to undertake similar acts without fear of reprisal. However, the defense counsel presented arguments on the grounds of fundamental freedoms and the individuals’ personal history with no prior criminal record.

The judgment in this case was pivotal, as it not only granted bail to the applicants but also laid down explicit instructions on maintaining respect towards national symbols at all times. The applicants were directed to report to the investigative authorities as and when called upon and were explicitly prohibited from participating in any act that could be construed as an insult to the national emblems. Moreover, they were to assure the court that the incident would not be repeated.

These examples reflect the balanced approach the judiciary in Chandigarh takes when dealing with matters related to anticipatory bail under The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. While the High Court ensures that the accused’s rights are not unduly compromised, it remains vigilant against the potential for such grants to be viewed as leniency towards acts that may undermine national dignity. As such, the conditions imposed often seek to reinforce educational and preventive aspects, emphasizing reverence to national symbols as an ongoing obligation for the bail recipients.


List of Most Recommended Lawyers:


1. Advocate Rohan Joshi
  • Experience: more than 20 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

2. Advocate Yuvraj Bhatia
  • Experience: more than 25 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

3. Advocate Aarush Kumar
  • Experience: more than 35 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

4. Advocate Sara Choudhary
  • Experience: more than 40 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

5. Advocate Reyansh Reddy
  • Experience: more than 30 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

6. Advocate Vivan Banerjee
  • Experience: more than 50 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

7. Advocate Aradhya Malhotra
  • Experience: more than 30 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

8. Advocate Krish Khatri
  • Experience: more than 25 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

9. Advocate Saisha Kapoor
  • Experience: more than 20 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

10. Advocate Aarav Saxena
  • Experience: more than 45 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer