State Flag
According to reports, a nine-member committee has been set up to design and provide statutory standing for the state flag.
Photo from Kannada Rajyotsava celebrations/ PTI

If reports are to be believed, the southern state of Karnataka will soon have its own state flag. 

Chethan Kumar reports for The Times of India that the process is on to design and give statutory standing to a separate, state flag. With this, Karnataka will be the second state in the country to have a separate state flag, after Jammu and Kashmir. 

The Hindu had earlier reported on July 10 that a nine-member committee headed by Principal Secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture, had been set up to study the possibilities of making a separate state flag. 

This was done following a representation by journalist, writer and president of Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha, Dharward, Patil Puttappa, and social worker Bheemappa Gundappa Gadada to the government, says the report. 

According to reports, the government order was issued on June 6.

Notably, the committee was constituted at a time when the Congress government in Karnataka has shown resistance to the Centre's three-language policy and has come out against Hindi signage in Bengaluru’s metro stations. 

Reacting to Karnataka's move to have a separate flag, Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda said: “India is one nation, and it can't have two flags."

Past opposition

Former CM of Karnataka and senior BJP leader Sadananda Gowda is not the only leader who has expressed his opposition to Karnataka's move to have a separate flag. In the year 2011 too, during the tenure of the previous BJP-led government, the government had taken a decision not to have a separate state flag. The opposition to having a state flag was based on the notion that it would "diminish the importance of the national flag”.

Then Kannada and Culture minister Govind M Karjol was quoted as saying in 2011: "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 narrow-minded regional feelings.''

Legal Position

Speaking to The Hindu, former Advocate-General of Karnataka, Ravivarma Kumar, said that the Constitution does not prohibit a state from having a separate state flag. Citing S.R. Bommai v/s Union of India (Supreme Court 1994) case, he said:

“In Bommai’s case, the Supreme Court has declared that federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution and States are supreme in their sphere. This being the Constitutional position, there is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the State flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag. It has to be always below the national flag. The national flag code specifically authorises use of other flags subject to the regulation by the court. So State flag is not unauthorised."

As long as the state flag was hoisted and kept at a height lower than the national flag, there was no impediment to having a separate state flag, Ravivarma Kumar told TOI.