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Supreme Court reserves verdict on `Sindh’

Thursday 28 April 2005

Legal Correspondent

Mahatma Gandhi described it as a devotional hymn in praise of civilisation

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgment on a public interest litigation petition seeking deletion of the word `Sindh’ from the National Anthem and substituting it with the word `Kashmir’, since the `Sindh’ province was no longer part of India. A Bench consisting of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan reserved orders at the conclusion of arguments from the petitioner, Sanjeev Bhatnagar, the Attorney-General, Milon Banerjee, and senior counsel, Ram Jethmalani and Vijay Panjwani on behalf of Sindhi organisations.

The petitioner contended that the recitation of `Sindh’ in the National Anthem was certainly an infringement on Pakistan’s sovereignty. Such singing for over 55 years was also "hurting the feelings of over 100 crore people."

The Attorney-General said the Constituent Assembly in 1950 adopted the National Anthem when Sindh was already part of Pakistan. Rabindranath Tagore had clarified that the poem had no reference to any particular geographical area but the cultures of India. "Any tampering with the poetic language or the text would stir a hornet’s nest encouraging demands for inclusion or deletion of words in the National Anthem," he submitted.

Emotive issue

The Union Home Ministry, in its reply, said: "The National Anthem is a highly emotive issue; any alteration/substitution in the anthem will not only distort but also almost destroy the anthem and may unnecessarily give rise to more controversies."

Appearing for the All-India Sindhi Council, Mr. Jethmalani questioned the petitioner’s claim that he represented the 100 crore people of the country. Till date none opposed the recitation of the anthem in public functions across the country. The word `Indus’ was derived from `Sindhu’, the river on the banks of which the world’s oldest civilisation thrived and the National Anthem was described by Mahatma Gandhi as a devotional hymn, sung in praise of such civilisation. He requested the court to impose heavy costs on the petitioner for filing a "frivolous petition."

The Sindhi Council of India, refuted the petitioner’s stand that Pakistan could raise a dispute over the inclusion of `Sindh’ in the National Anthem.

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