In an advisory to the states and Union territories, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the national flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of the country and hence should occupy a position of honour.
The ministry said that it has been brought to its notice that during important events, the national flag made of plastic is also being used in place of paper flags.
Since, the plastic flags are not biodegradable like paper flags, these do not get decomposed for a long time and ensuring appropriate disposal of national flag made of plastic commensurate with dignity of the flag, is a practical problem, the advisory said.
As per Section 2 of 'The Prevention of insults to National Honour Act, 1971' - Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the Indian National Flag or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
The advisory said that on important national, cultural and sports events, flags made of paper only are to be used by public in terms of the provisions of the 'Flag Code of India, 2002' and such paper flags are not to be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event.
Such flags are to be disposed of, in private, consistent with the dignity of the flag. Wide publicity for not using the national flag made of plastic should be made along with its advertisement in the electronic and print media.
State governments, UT administrations, secretaries of all ministries/departments of government of India were told to ensure strict compliance of the provisions contained in the 'Flag Code of India, 2002' and 'The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
There is universal affection and respect for and loyalty to the national flag. Yet, a perceptible lack of awareness is often noticed amongst the people as well as organisations and agencies of the government in regard to laws, practices and conventions that apply to 'display of the national flag', the advisory said.
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