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Infosys boss 'disrespected' Indian anthem

Chairman & founder faces charges

A court in Bangalore, India, has ordered the registration of a criminal case against N.R. Narayana Murthy, chairman and co-founder of Indian outsourcer Infosys Technologies.

The decision by the court follows a private complaint by a regional lawyers' association. The group alleged that Murthy had shown disrespect to the country’s national anthem during a visit in April by India's President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to an Infosys campus in Mysore near Bangalore.

A summons returnable on June 21 was issued to Murthy, and a criminal case registered under the country's Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971.

Murthy ran into controversy during President Kalam’s visit, as the company played an instrumental version of the national anthem rather than the usual version with lyrics. When asked by local reporters, Murthy reportedly said that singing the national anthem would have 'embarrassed' company employees of foreign origin.

Local politicians in Karnataka criticised Murthy for his actions. He later said that if his comments had hurt anybody's sentiments, he apologised.

Murthy's comments on social and economic issues have often been controversial. Regarded as the poster boy of the booming outsourcing business in India, Murthy is also seen as the key figure of a new elite created by the Indian outsourcing industry.

The move by this elite to try to influence public policy has met with resentment from various sections of society, who hold that this new elite is out of touch with India’s social and economic problems, including rural poverty. Murthy, who denies an interest in entering politics, has been cited by a local TV channel as being favoured by many to be India’s next president.

Infosys declined to comment on the court order.

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