SC makes national anthem optional in cinema halls

Frederick Owens
January 11, 2018

The Supreme Court modified its earlier order and said that playing the national anthem in cinema halls before screening films was no longer mandatory on Tuesday, reports said. In order to show respect, the audience had to stand up to show respect towards the National Anthem.


"In the name of entertainment, the National Anthem somewhere compromised its dignity, I respect the decision of the Supreme Court, because this decision will honor the National Anthem."


The order came after the government informed the court that it had formed a 12-member inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines for occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung in theatres. "The committee will give recommendations regarding regulations of playing and singing national anthem and to suggest changes in the acts and orders relating to the Insult of National Honour Act 1971", said the official.

Before the 2016 ruling, some state governments including Maharashtra had made it mandatory for the national anthem to be played in theatres across the state. It is between the Centre and the Supreme Court as of now.

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The Multiplex Association of India president Deepak Asher told THR that following the new ruling, it is now up to multiplexes "to take a call whether they want to or don't want to play the national anthem". In such an eventuality, the Centre has asked the top court to reconsider restoring the position to where it stood before the apex court passed its order.

Giving the government a final say in the matter, the bench admitted it was not possible to give a list of occasions to play the anthem.

Aware of the widespread criticism of the order, mainly because of the activities of vigilante groups in enforcing it, the three-judge bench readily accepted the AG's request on Tuesday, which in in sync with the loud hints the SC had dropped during a hearing on October 23 past year on a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey. The court revoked its earlier order after multiple cases of vigilante patriotism were reported. Justice DY Chandrachud, who was on the bench, observed that there was no need for an Indian to "wear his patriotism on his sleeves".

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