March 23, 2018

SC: Not mandatory to play National Anthem before a Movie

11 January 2018, 08:20 | Darnell Patrick

Nathional anthem is no longer compulsory in cinemas: Supreme Court

National Anthem

A day after the Centre submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court seeking recall of its order that made it compulsory for cinema halls to play the National Anthem before a film screening and for people to stand up for the duration of the anthem as a show of respect, the court Tuesday reversed the November 2016 order. He argued that under Article 51 (A) of the Constitution, it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to show respect to the national flag and the national anthem.

The new decision, Indian news outlets reported, allows theatres to choose whether to play the national anthem.

The court extended the exception that was granted to the disabled persons and it shall remain in force till the final decision of the competent authority is made.

Earlier, 30 November 2016, the SC had directed all cinema halls across India to play the national anthem before the beginning of any film. The court also asked government to set up a commission to make further recommendations, including whether the anthem is necessary at all.

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"It is clear as crystal that no one can be intentionally prevented from singing or cause disturbance in an assembly singing the anthem", the court said, citing the prevention of insult of national honour act.

A 12-member inter-ministerial committee set up by the Centre would come up with an extensive anthem code clearly listing out the dos and the don'ts, the court said, disposing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The Centre said an inter-ministerial committee was being asked to look into the matter and the government would take a call once the committee submitted its recommendations in six months.

Supreme Court has stated that playing of the national anthem - "Jana Gana Mana" at movie halls is not mandatory.

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 previous year on a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey. "If any specific order is passed, we may deliberate upon it in future", said Ranjit Patil, minister of state for home (cities).

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