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What is a National Emblem?

What is a National Emblem?

Adv Soniya A Gajbhiye

A national emblem is the official seal of a sovereign state.

On 26 January 1950, India had adopted its national emblem, which was an adaptation of Emperor Asoka’s Lion Capital at Sarnath.

The original Lion Capital at Sarnath has four lions mounted back-to-back on a circular abacus. This circular abacus rests on a bell-shaped lotus. An elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion were sculpted on the wall of the abacus, along with a Dharma Chakra,

The national emblem adopted by our nation consists of three lions mounted on the abacus with Dharma Chakra in the centre, a bull on right and galloping horse on the left of the abacus, and the slogan Satyamev Jayate below the Lion Capital.

The basic and fundamental feature of our national emblem is the three self-composed and confident lions conveying the message that truth always triumphs. In contrast to the national emblem adopted in 1950, the national emblem inaugurated recently by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi, and installed at the top of the new parliament building revealed that the lions depict a roaring expression with teeth pronounced and chest expanded, giving it a ferocious appearance.

We all are surprised as to how the Prime Minister or anyone else can allow any change in the design or appearance of the national emblem unilaterally without prior approval of rules made accordingly by both the houses of parliament. A quick glance at the newly installed emblem in the new parliament building reveals that drastic changes were made to the overall look and the expression of the lions, which now appear ferocious and roaring.

In my humble opinion, the manner in which the attempt to change the national emblem is made is arbitrary and contrary to law; and the way in which the Hon’ble Prime Minister unilaterally changed the national emblem drastically is nothing but an insult to the nation and the national emblem, as well as to the Constitution of India.


Given the national importance of the national emblem, as well as the fact that it has been adopted and used continuously since 1950 by the whole world, and consequently, it being a matter of national importance, the opinion of citizens as well as political parties should have been invited, and rules in this regard should have been framed and placed before the Parliament to seek approval for change in the design of the national emblem.

Governing Law

As far as the law in this regard is concerned, as per Section 6 of the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act 2005, the central government is conferred with the power to specify the design of the national emblem to be used on government stationery or for official seal by the government.

In my view, which is based on a close study of the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act 2005, the power of central government to specify the design of the national emblem does not mean and cannot be construed that the basic feature, look, appearance and the expression of the national emblem can be changed. It is only for the purpose of using the national emblem on government stationery or designing of the official seal, which can be specified by the Central government.

Thus, in my view, what the Prime Minister did was illegal, contrary to the law, and constitutes a penal offence under the said Act of 2005.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Section 6 of Act of 2005 empowers the central government to change the design of the specifications of the national emblem, this cannot be done unless and until new rules are framed by the central government and approved by the parliament, as per  Section 11 of the said Act.

In any case and under any circumstances, the Prime Minister cannot change the design of the national emblem on his own, but because he did, it  is illegal and cannot be justified. It being an attempt to change the national emblem materially, we the people of India are duty bound to oppose and protest it until the originally adopted national emblem replaces the changed national emblem in the new parliament building.

My humble submission in this regard is that the central government, the Hon’ble Prime Minister, or the political party to which he belongs should not involve their ego in undoing the apparently unacceptable act of changing the national emblem.

We all know, and even the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the political party to which he belongs have made it clear in their various statements that any change in design of the originally accepted national emblem is not permissible, and it is for this reason alone that they are trying to mislead the citizens by claiming that the national emblem installed in the new parliament building is the replica of the Asiatic lions at Sarnath.

If the Prime Minister and his political party are right, I’m putting the question to people, as well as the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the central government, whether the national emblem used from 1950 until recently was not the true replica of Sarnath. In my view, the Prime Minister will not answer, and I appeal to all Indians to unite to protest the change in the national emblem until the originally adopted National emblem is restored and re-established.


Adv Soniya A Gajbhiye  is an advocate at Bombay High Court’s Nagpur Bench. She is also a social activist running an organization named Bhimraj Ki Beti Buddhist Mahila Sangh in Nagpur. Mob : 7218349277 ; 9096111003

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