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NEW DELHI: The Centre has told the Delhi high court that the national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and the national song ‘Vande Mataram’ “stand on the same level” and citizens should show equal respect to both.

It submitted that even though unlike the national anthem, there are no penal provisions or official instructions about singing or playing ‘Vande Mataram’, the song occupies a unique place in the emotions and psyche of Indians.

The MHA stand on an affidavit came in response to a PIL by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to ensure that the song ‘Vande Mataram’ is as honoured and given equal status as the national anthem.

Emphasising that both the national song and the national anthem have their own sanctity and deserve equal respect, the Centre stated that the subject matter of the present proceedings can never be a subject matter of a writ petition. The “short counter affidavit” was filed through Centre’s lawyer Manish Mohan.

The court was informed that the issue of promoting ‘Vande Mataram’ was earlier dealt with by the top court that refused to “enter into any debate” as there was no reference to a national song in the Constitution. Subsequently, the HC dismissed another petition seeking guidelines for singing and playing ‘Vande Mataram’ while noting that there could be no dispute that the song deserves the regard and respect, which has been recognised by the authorities.

“The national anthem and the national song both have their sanctity and deserve equal respect. However, the subject matter of the present proceedings can never be a subject matter seeking a writ of the HC,” the Centre stated.

The petitioner, who has also sought a direction from the Centre and the Delhi government to ensure that ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ are played and sung in all schools and educational institutions on every working day, has contended that in the absence of any guideline or regulations to honour the song, ‘Vande Mataram’ is being sung in an “uncivilised manner” and misused in films and parties.

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