The Madras high court on Tuesday made singing Vande Mataram compulsory in all government schools, colleges and universities in Tamil Nadu at least once a week "preferably on Monday or Friday” in the "larger public interest and to instil a sense of patriotism in each and every citizen of the state”.
The court also ruled that the national song must be played and sung in all government offices and institutions, private companies, factories and industries at least once a month.
Observing that the youth of this country are the future of tomorrow, Justice M V Muralidharan expressed hope that the order is taken in the right spirit and implemented in letter and spirit by the citizenry. Noting that if people had difficulties singing the song in Bengali or Sanskrit, the court also directed the Director of Public Information to upload the translated version of Vande Mataram in Tamil and English on government websites and social media handles.
However, the judge made it clear that in the event, any person/organisation has difficulty in singing or playing the song, they shall not be compelled or forced to sing it, provided there are valid reasons for not doing so.
Several Muslim organisations have opposed compulsory singing of the national song on grounds that it goes against the tenets of their religion.
The Supreme Court is also hearing a petition asking the Centre to make the singing of Vande Mataram mandatory in all educational institutions. The top court in April gave the Centre four weeks to reply and the next date of hearing is scheduled for August 25.
The court’s decision came on a plea by one K Veeramani who failed to clear a test conducted by the Teachers Training Board by one mark. The petitioner stated that he scored 89 marks, one mark short of the 90 required to qualify for consideration for the post of BT Assistant. He further contended that he lost out on the opportunity because he answered ‘Bengali’ to a question on the language of Vande Mataram.
However, the petitioner contended in court that he had read in many books that the song was written in Bengali and that the Teachers Recruitment Board had erred by saying in its answer key that the song was in Sanskrit. The government, on the other hand, contended that the song was originally written in Sanskrit and was later translated in Bengali.
To clear the ambiguity, the judge directed the Advocate General to find out the right answer. On July 13, when the plea came up for hearing the AG clarified that the original language of 'Vande Mataram' was Sanskrit but written in Bengali script.
The judge ordered the recruitment board to award one mark to Veeramani so that he could qualify for the post, as per its guidelines. The petitioner should be inducted as a teacher within four weeks, the court ruled.