[This article was authored by Ranu Tiwari, student at Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur. It discusses various legal aspects of the use of symbolic expression.]
The present paper deals with an important aspect of protest demonstrations- the use of national symbols. The incorporation of these symbols in protest activities raises various legal and moral dilemmas. The paper has been divided into four parts. Part I starts with a brief introduction to the topic. Part II will look into the significance of these symbols to understand why these signs become a good tool for political dissent. Part III will elaborate upon various provisions relating to the protection of national symbols. Part IV looks into the fine lines between the ‘respect’ and ‘disrespect’ element in the context of the present discussion, and advocates that limiting the use of the symbolic expression is a curtailment of ‘freedom of speech and expression’. Decisions of other jurisdictions have also been highlighted, especially the USA, where the Courts have very well settled the matter on these issues.