Bijoe Emmanuel vs State of Kerala - Landmark Case
Bijoe Emmanuel vs State of Kerala - Landmark Case / Leading Case popularly known as National Anthem Case decided by Supreme Court of India in 1986.
Landmark Judgment of Bijoe Emmanuel vs State of Kerala Case Summary (1986 Supreme Court Decision):
In this case three children belonging to Jehovah's witnesses were expelled from the school for refusing to sing the National Anthem during school prayer. The circular issued by the Director of Instructions, Kerala had made it obligatory for students in the schools to sing the National Anthem. The Children in this case stood up respectfully when the National Anthem was being sung at their school but they did not join in singing the National Anthem. They refused to sing the National Anthem as according to them it was against their religious faith which does not permit them to join in any rituals except if be in their prayer to Jehovah, their God. Expulsion of children from the school was being challenged in Kerala High Court which upheld their expulsion as valid on the ground that it was their Fundamental Duty to sing the National Anthem and they committed an offence under the Prevention of Insult to National Honours Act, 1971.
Decision of Kerala High Court was appealed in Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court, however, reversed the decision of the High Court of Kerala and observed that they did not commit any offence. There was no law under which their Fundamental Right under Article 19 (1)(a) could be curtailed. The right under Article 19 (1)(a) can only be regulated by law and on the grounds mentioned in the Indian Constitution and not be executive instructions. [Article 19 (1)(a) is a fundamental rights of every citizen to have freedom of speech and expression subject to Article 19(2)]. They did not commit any offence under the Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act, 1971, because they stood up respectfully when the National Anthem was being sung. It was held that the children's expulsion from the school was a violation of their Fundamental Right under Article 19 (1)(a), which includes the freedom of silence.
Supreme Court further held that the restriction on the freedom of religion can be upheld only if it falls within the exceptions of clause (1) and clause (2) of Article 25. It cannot be imposed on any other extraneous consideration. Further, that the restriction must have the authority of law.
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