The Indian flag code is a set of laws that govern the usage of the Flag of India. The Bureau of Indian Standards is the authority which governs and enforces the manufacture and correct usage of the flag according to the certain standards issued in three sets of documents. The standards were created in 1968 and thereafter updated in 2008.
The Flag Code of India has been divided into three parts:
- General description of the National Flag.
- Display of the National Flag by members of public, private organizations and educational institutions etc.
- Display of National Flag by central or state Governments and their organizations and agencies.
The National flag of India is officially described in the Flag Code of India as follows:
The color of the top panel shall be India saffron and that of the bottom panel shall be India green. The middle panel shall be white, bearing at its center the design of Ashoka Chakra in navy blue color with 24 equally spaced spokes.
It was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, when it became the official flag of the Dominion of India. The flag was subsequently retained as that of the Republic of India. In India, the term tricolor i.e. तिरंगा almost always refers to the Indian national flag.
Khadi is the only material allowed to be used for the flag, and flying a flag made of any other material is punishable by law with imprisonment up to three years, besides a fine. Raw materials for Khadi are restricted to cotton, silk and wool. The guidelines also state that there should be exactly 150 threads per square centimeter, four threads per stitch, and one square foot should weigh exactly 205 grams.
The flag should never be used as a cloth to cover tables, lecterns, podiums or buildings, or be draped from railings. Whenever the flag is displayed indoors in halls at public meetings or gatherings of any kind, it should always be on the right i.e. observers’ left, as this is the position of authority. So, when the flag is displayed next to a speaker in the hall or other meeting place, it must be placed on the speaker’s right hand. When it is displayed elsewhere in the hall, it should be to the right of the audience. The flag should be displayed completely spread out with the saffron stripe on top. The flag, when carried in a procession or parade or with another flag or flags, should be on the marching right or alone in the center at the front. Those present in uniform should render the appropriate salute. The flag salutation should be followed by the playing of the national anthem.
The privilege of flying the national flag on vehicles is restricted to the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Governors and Lieutenant Governors of states, Chief Minister, Union Ministers, members of the Parliament of India and state legislatures of the Indian states judges of the Supreme Court of India and High Courts, and flag officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The flag has to be flown from a staff affixed firmly either on the middle front or to the front right side of the car. The flag should be flown on the aircraft carrying the President, the Vice-President or the Prime Minister on a visit to a foreign country. Alongside the National Flag, the flag of the country visited should also be flown; however, when the aircraft lands in countries en route, the national flags of the respective countries would be flown instead. When carrying the President within India, aircraft display the flag on the side the President embarks or disembarks; the flag is similarly flown on trains, but only when the train is stationary or approaching a railway station.
The flag should be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. The decision to do so lies with the President of India, who also decides the period of such mourning. When the flag is to be flown at half mast, it must first be raised to the top of the mast and then slowly lowered. Only the Indian flag is flown half-mast; all other flags remain at normal height. The flag is flown half-mast nationwide on the death of the President, Vice-president or Prime Minister.