Trace Your Case


Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala AIR 1987 SC 748


  • Is the expulsion of the 3 students from a school in Kerala justified under Kerala Education Act (Section 36), Kerala Education Rules(Rule 6 and 9), and Section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971?
  • Whether the expulsion of the children from the school is consistent with the rights guaranteed under Article 19(1) and Article 25 of the Indian Constitution?


  • There was no legal provision that obligates anyone to sing the National Anthem, and it is not disrespectful to the Anthem. The court ordered that the students be permitted to study in the school without any hindrance.
  • Further, the court had observed that our traditions taught us tolerance, our philosophy preaches tolerance, and our Constitution practices tolerance hence we should not dilute it.


  • The case pertains to 3 students – Bijou, Binu Mol, and Bindu Emmanuel who studied in a school in Kerala. They attended school every day and even participated in the school assembly.
  • However, when the National Anthem was sung, they didn’t sing the National Anthem along with the other students but stood at attention.
  • Their two elder sisters also studied in the same school and followed the same practice and nobody ever objected to it.
  • One day in July 1985, a member of the legislative assembly attended the assembly and noticed that the 3 children were not singing the National Anthem and he thought that this behaviour of theirs was unpatriotic.
  • He raised this question in the Assembly and a commission was set up to investigate the matter. The commission reported that the children were well-behaved and law-abiding and did not ever show any disrespect to the National Anthem.
  • However, the Head Mistress expelled the students from the school under the instructions of the Deputy Inspector of Schools.
  • The father of the children requested the headmistress to allow the children to attend their classes in school till they received a government order/decision in the matter. The Headmistress expressed her inability to do so.
  • The objection of the Emmanuel children was not the language or the sentiments of the National Anthem. They did not sing the National Anthem, but they always stood in when the National Anthem was sung to show their respect for it. They did not sing only because of their belief and conviction that their religion did not permit them to join any rituals except it be in their prayers to Jehovah, their God.
  • Since the appellants were prevented from attending the school, they sought a restraining order passed by the authorities. However, their writ petition was first rejected by a single learned judge and then the division bench also rejected the prayer of the children.
  • After this, the case was appealed by the father, in the Supreme Court through a special leave petition under Article 136 of the Constitution.


  • The Supreme Court held that the three students were not guilty of disrespect to the National Anthem just because they refused to sing it. Moreover, they did stand in respect whenever the National Anthem was being sung.