There are rules and regulation that govern the usage of the flag and its display. These are laid down in the Flag Code of India, 2002 which came into being after modifications to the original flag code, the 1950 Emblems and Names Act under Prevention of Improper Use and the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. An action that violates the provisions of the Flag Code either by incorrect usage or by any means that disrespects the flag, is punishable in the court of law. The punishment can be in the form of up to three years of imprisonment or a fine or both.
According to the official regulations, the flag should neither touch the ground nor water. It can also not be used as a drapery. It should always be hoisted in the correct way and never placed upside down. It cannot be used to hold anything except flower petals before it is unfurled. No text or graphic can be inscribed on it. Irrespective of the weather, the flag should be flown outside between sunset and sunrise. There were some special conditions in which the flag could be flown on public buildings even at night but this was prior to 2009. Today, a private citizen can fly the flag at night but it should be hoisted on a tall flagpole and should be well lit. In case the flag needs to be hoisted or draped vertically, it should be turned perpendicular and reversed. The idea is that the correct way to display a flag is like reading a book. It has to look right from top to bottom and from left to right. Using a dirty or torn flag is equivalent to insulting it. The flag should always be proper and the flagpole and the system used for hoisting should be well maintained.
As is stated in the original Flag Code of India, the citizens of the country could only display the flag on Independence Day and Republic Day. This changed on 26 January 2002 with Supreme Court passing a judgement which made the Government of India amend the Flag Code. The credit to this goes to Navin Jindal who is an industrialist and who flew the flag on his office building. He had studied in the United States and had seen their flag being used in a democratic way with the citizens having being given the right to display it regardless of occasion. When Jindal flew the tricolour in India, the flag was taken away and he was warned of legal action. This made him file a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court. His aim was to give the private citizens of India the right to hoist the National Flag. He argued that flying the National Flag, while maintaining its honour, was a matter of pride for the citizens and also a way for expressing love for the country. The Supreme Court ruled in Jindal’s favour and the amendment came into being.
So, from 26 January 2002, the citizens of India can hoist the flag whenever they want but have to maintain the honour and respect due to it. Unlike the fundamental rights that a citizen of India has, the right to fly the flag is a qualified right. Article 19 of the constitution has laid down the context in which the right can be interpreted. According to the original Flag Code, the tricolour could not be used on clothing. But in July 2005, this clause of the code was amended. The new code now forbids use of the flag on garments worn below the waist and on undergarments. It is also forbidden to embroider it onto dress material or handkerchiefs etc.
There are separate rules and regulations for disposal of damaged flags. They should be destroyed as a whole either by burning or by any another method while maintaining the dignity of the flag.