RTI reply: Here is the truth behind conducting Sridevi's funeral with State honours and National Flag
- Indian actress, Sridevi's body was draped with the National Flag during her funeral
- She was given the state honour before the last rites were performed
- There was a backlash saying it was legally not right to do so
- Here are the details why it is not wrong to drape a civilian's body in the National Flag
Indian film industry's Diva Sridevi's death, post-mortem and also the funeral had raised many questions. The sudden death of 54-year-old actress had shocked people all over India. The doubts about the way of her death were cleared by the Dubai police, with the post-mortem.
An RTI query into why was Sridevi given the state honours has been answered now. Accordingly, it was Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's directions that Sridevi must be given state honours. Apart form the specified dignitaries, the Chief Minister has the right to decide if anyone else from the state deserves the state honours. It is said that as Sridevi was honoured with Padma Shri, she could be given the state honours.
However, the use of National Flag on Sridevi's body, during her funeral, raised many questions if this was legally right. Many argued that she was given the honour because she had received the fourth highest civilian award in the country - Padma Shri.
But here is the truth. It was not because of the award, but the Maharashtra government wanted to honour the actress, who had given her contribution to the field of Indian cinema.
Sridevi had started acting at the age of 4; she was an actress until her death - spanning more than 50 years.
Though the general notion is that the flag can be used only on the body of martyrs. According to Section V of the Flag Code of India before the amendment, “The flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in State/Military/Central Paramilitary Forces funerals herein after provided. The flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever, including private funerals."
But changes have been made in the Flag Code and accordingly, power has also been given to the State chiefs (chief ministers along with approval from Cabinet) to decide if the National Flag has to be draped around a body, also with the state honours.
Former Minister MC Nanaiah had told the rediff.com about the power of the state government in deciding the use of the national flag to honour someone worthy.
"It is now based on the discretion of the state government, which will decide who will be accorded a state funeral, depending on the stature of the deceased. There are no set guidelines," Nanaiah had said.
Thus, draping the National Flag on Sridevi's body was not legally wrong. Though she has not done anything concrete for the welfare of Indian people, no one can rule out the fact that she was the first superstar of Indian Cinema and has entertained crores of people all over the country.
People have laughed, cried and identified with Sridevi in many of her movies. She was a catharsis to many. Draping the National Flag on someone who was loved by most of the Indians might not be a wrong decision, after all.