The Central Information Commission has directed the PMO to “initiate fresh efforts” to find out the historical facts about the national anthem and national song after the latter refused to answer an RTI query on the same, claiming that the information did not pertain to it.
The query was filed by Harinder Dhingra who wanted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to “certify if ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was the national anthem and ‘Vande Mataram’ the national song, besides completing the file noting on declaration of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s poem as the national anthem.”
The PMO, however, had said that the information sought “does not pertain to this Public Authority”.
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said it was surprising to know that on these national aspects, the Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) of all high offices simply passed it on to the others “without application of mind”.
“This silence gives rise to doubts whether the Union Government has any records about Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram,” he said.
Giving detailed history of the national anthem and national song in his order, Sridhar said, “All this necessitates an official dossier from the Government of India, based on thorough research of records in response to this RTI question to provide an authentic answer to doubts and to remove misunderstandings among the people about Jana Gana Mana.”
Citing the number of Supreme Court orders, Sridhar said, “To instill respect for the national anthem, the Union Government should do all they could to educate people about the historical importance and significant reasons for declaring Jana Gana Mana as national anthem.”
“Before punishing people for not standing or respecting the national anthem, they should be informed about its greatness,” he said.
The Information Commissioner said in the backdrop of confusion created by the social media propaganda of unauthentic statements, the nation needed comprehensive authentic information about the national anthem and national song.
“The Commission remands the first two questions...back to the CPIO of PMO with a direction to initiate fresh efforts to find out the historical facts about these two inspiring songs-Jana Gana Mana and Vande Matharam—and status accorded to them to place facts before the nation and dispel widespread misnomers about them in larger public interest.
“It is a national necessity to address the patriotic and secular sentiments of the people of India,” he added.