The Congress-led Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka has constituted a nine-member committee to study the possibility of designing its own ‘state flag’.
The panel headed by Principal Secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture is expected to prepare a design for a separate state flag and soon submit a report looking into the legal sanctity of the same to the state government.
If the move does get legal sanction then it would make Karnataka the only second state in the country to officially have its own flag after Jammu & Kashmir, which enjoys special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
• The committee was constituted following representations from Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha president Patil Puttappa and activist Bheemappa Gundappa Gadada from Belagavi.
• The social activists urged the government to design a separate flag for the state and accord statutory standing for it.
• Under the constitutional powers of a state, there is no law prohibiting a state from having its own flag.
• The national flag code also at present specifically authorises the use of other flags subject to the regulation by the court.
• However, the state flag should not in any manner dishonour the national flag. It should always be hoisted below the national flag.
• Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country to have a separate flag of its own due to its special status.
• Besides this, the only two other de facto state flags belong to Sikkim and Karnataka.
The Sikkim flag lost its official status when Sikkim became a part of India in 1975 after Sikkimese Monarchy Referendum.
The present Karnataka flag is not strictly an official or unofficial flag. It belongs to the Kannada Paksha political party, which was formed by Mr. M Ramamurthy in 1965.
It is, however, used for Kannada Rajyotsava and other Kannada oriented celebrations.
The decision to have its own state flag however, goes against the stand the state took in 2012 under the BJP government, when it had told the Karnataka high court that it had not accepted suggestions to declare the red and yellow Kannada flag as the official state flag, as a separate flag would go against the "unity and integrity of the country".
The then Kannada and culture minister Govind M Karjol had explained the decision saying that the Flag Code does not allow flags for states. He had further stated that the national flag is the symbol of the nation’s integrity and sovereignty and if the states have their separate flags, it could diminish the importance of the national flag and lead to narrow-minded regional feelings.
The current move coincides with pro-Kannada voices denouncing the alleged imposition of Hindi in the state. The state would be up for assembly polls in 2018.
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