Review playing of national anthem in cinema halls, SC to Centre

Review playing of national anthem in cinema halls, SC to Centre

On December 1, 2016, the SC had ordered that to instill "committed patriotism and nationalism all the cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem" as a part of their "sacred obligation".

The Supreme Court on Monday observed that it is not compulsory for people to stand up in the cinema halls when the national anthem is played to prove their patriotism. It granted Centre time till January 9 to "take a call one way or other" on framing of rules on playing on national anthem in theatres and other public events. The court said that it was fundamental duty of every citizen to respect National Anthem and National Flag and it was desirable that anthem was played in public events but judiciary should not step in to make it mandatory in cinema halls. He said it was necessary to have a unifying force that can be brought about by playing the national anthem.

The court said that while taking a fresh decision on the matter, the government will not be influenced by its 2016 order wherein playing of the national anthem in cinema halls was made mandatory.

The court's order on Monday came on a plea that sought the recall of its November 30 order.

The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, was initially inclined to modify its November 30, 2016, order replacing the word "shall" with "may".

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Justice D.Y. Chandrachud opposed the practice of mandatory standing up for the national anthem before a movie, saying, "Just because a person does not stand up for it, does not mean that they are anti-national".

Justice Chandrachud said cultural and social values are imbibed from parents and teachers and not what courts enforce through its orders. "Where then can we draw the line on moral policing", said Justice Chandrachud, who was most vocal in demanding Government to respond. These are all matters of entertainment.

"What if somebody objects to people wearing shorts in cinema hall?" He expressed unhappiness over the government supporting the order which mandates standing up for the National Anthem.

Senior counsel Rakesh Diwedi, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that disrespect to the national anthem is not an offence.

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