The National flag is honoured and esteemed by everyone. Yet, to prevent people from subconsciously disregarding the National Flag or the National Anthem, acts have been enacted which imposes a duty on the people so that they do not disrespect or dishonor the sanctity of the National flag or the National Anthem.

Apart from non-statutory instructions that are issued by the government from time to time, the display of the National Flag is governed by the provisions of The Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 2005 and The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.

The Flag Code of India, 2002 sets out laws, practices, and conventions about the usage of National Flag. Although amendments have been brought up in the Flag Code of India from time to time, yet it does not permit the National Flag to be worn as part of a uniform, costume or to print or imitate it.

  • Section 2 (e) of The Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 2005 states that the Indian flag should not be used as a portion of a costume, uniform, or accessory to be worn below the waist of a person. It also states that the National flag should not be printed on any dress material.
  • In this case, since the Indian National Flag is intended to be displayed on certain garments as part of a collection, it will be considered as dishonoring the National Flag.
  • Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 states that any person who disrespects or disregards the National Flag would be liable to imprisonment for a term of 3 years or fine or both.
  • Section 3 of The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use), 1950 prohibits the improper use of Emblems and names or an imitation of it for trade, business, profession, patent, trademark or design without the permission of the Central government or office of the government. The term "Emblem" includes flag, seal as well as pictorial representations of the flag of India.
  • Article 51A (a) of the Constitution of India states that it is the duty of every Indian citizen to abide by the Indian Constitution and to respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • Recently a news column in The Hindu dated 17th November 20221 stated that Amazon was booked for selling T- shirts, sandals, ceramic cups etc. which displayed the National Flag on them. The case has been registered under section 2 (iv) and (v) of The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971.


In the case of Mandira Bedi Vs. Pawan2, during the Men's Cricket World Cup telecast, the TV anchor and actress wore the Indian National Flag that was printed on her saree. She was booked under section 2 of The Prevention of Insults to National Honours (Amendment) Act, 2005.

In a news article published in Times of India dated 27th February 2005, sportspersons were banned from displaying the flag on their equipments. It meant that sportspersons could not sport the tricolour on their helmet or gloves. The home ministry had enforced the ban stating that the tricolour should not be used on costumes as mentioned in the Flag Code of India.

A few years ago, there were strong protests against Amazon for using the Indian National flag on doormats. Later, Amazon removed the offensive articles from their website. Taking strong actions against Amazon, the then External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj asked Amazon to remove the products and to apologize, failing which no officer of Amazon will be granted an Indian visa and would be cancelled if already granted.

According to a newspaper article published on E Times on 28th January 2017, when India won the Cricket World Cup in 2011, everyone including the celebrities poured out to the street wrapping the National Flag around them. A social activist came across the photos of Shah Rukh Khan holding the tricolour upside down while celebrating. The act went unnoticed while it was happening and later it was too late to file a complaint. However, it made to the columns of various newspapers stating 'SRK too was booked under The Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act, 1971.

In yet another article published in the E- Times dated 28th January 20173 Amitabh Bachchan with a sense of pride, wrapped the Indian flag around his body after India won the Cricket World Cup against Pakistan. He had also written down statements regarding the pride he feels after India won the cricket world cup. Later, some people called Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan as offenders for 'covering the flag in their bodies in a manner that was inappropriate and insulting to the nation'.

It can be concluded that-

  • The National Flag of India cannot be used on garments in the form of uniform, costume, or accessory.
  • A garment having an imitation or print of the Indian National Flag cannot be traded or sold.
  • An imitation or print of the Indian National Flag on garments can be used only after seeking prior permission and approval from the government.
  • Various online sites such as Flipkart and Amazon sell T-shirts and other apparels having the print of the Indian National Flag on it. However, these instances call out for legal consequences such as removing the product from the site, severe fine or apology by these online sites.

The Indian National Flag represents the sacrifice and aspirations of martyrs who have given up their lives to bring India to where it is now- free and democratic. To ensure that none of their efforts go in vain, various acts have been enacted to respect and properly use the National Flag. While using the National flag in one way might not hurt the nationalistic feelings of one class of Indians, it might hurt the feelings of the rest.



2. Complaint No.- 261/2007 dated 3Q-4-2007, Order 18.06.2007


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