Nation

Karnataka proposes its ‘state flag', forms panel to check legal aspect

July 18, 2017 04:32 AM
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BENGALURU: Even as the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre chants the one-nation mantra, the Congress-led government in Karnataka has constituted a nine member committee to design a 'state' flag — an identity symbol unique to the state — and submit a report on giving it legal sanctity. If such a flag does come into being, Karnataka will only be the second state in the country to officially have a flag of its own after Jammu & Kashmir, which enjoys special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.

Former advocate general of Karnataka Ravi Varma Kumar said, "The Constitution provides states supremacy in their own sphere and even a seven-judge Supreme Court bench has upheld this. The flag code also has no restrictions on this matter." 

The move, coming months ahead of assembly elections in 2018, marks a departure from the stand Karnataka had taken in 2012 when BJP was in office. The state government had then told the Karnataka high court that it had not accepted suggestions to declare the red-and-yellow Karnataka flag the official state flag, as a separate flag would go against the "unity and integrity of the country".

When the issue was raised in the assembly, then Kannada and culture minister Govind M Karjol had said: "The Flag Code does not allow flags for states. Our national flag is the symbol of integrity and sovereignty of our nation. If states have their separate flags, it could diminish the importance of the national flag. Besides, there are possibilities of it leading to narrowminded regional feelings."

The Siddaramaiah government is mooting a separate flag for the state, coinciding with pro-Kannada voices denouncing the alleged imposition of Hindi in the state. Former Karnataka chief minister and Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda dismissed the move, saying, "India is one nation and there cannot be two flags in one country."

The June 6 government order, a copy of which is with TOI, has nominated principal secretary of the Kannada and culture department as chairperson of the committee. The order, signed on behalf of the governor by G Annapurna, under secretary of the Kannada and culture department, reads: "The committee must ready a design for a separate state flag and submit a report on providing it a legal sanctity."

The order says the committee has been set up against the backdrop of representations from Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha president Patil Puttappa and activist Bheemappa Gundappa Gadada from Belagavi. However, these representations were made as far back as November 2014. Experts TOI spoke to say existing laws may permit states to have a flag of their own.

Former advocate general of Karnataka Ravi Varma Kumar said, "The Constitution provides states supremacy in their own sphere and even a seven-judge Supreme Court bench has upheld this. The flag code also has no restrictions on this matter." (From Times of India)

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