Playing of national anthem in cinema halls made optional 

Playing of national anthem in cinema halls made optional 

Context

The Supreme Court today made the playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies optional, modifying its earlier order

Modification in 2016 order

The apex court modified its November 30, 2016, order by which it had made the playing of the anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of a film

Committee would take final decision

A bench headed by Chief Justice DipakMisra said a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on the playing of national anthem in the cinemas

  • Changes to Prevention & Insult to National Honor Act: The top court accepted the government’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. Attorney General K KVenugopal told the bench that the committee will submit its report within six months
  • The bench, also said that the committee should comprehensively look into all the aspects relating to the playing of national anthem and allowed the petitioners to make representations before the panel
  • Representatives in the committee: The inter-ministerial committee headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, with representatives from various other ministries, including the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Culture, Woman and Child Development and Parliamentary Affairs
    • It would also have representatives of the Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Minority Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, the affidavit filed by Centre said

Why this committee?

The Centre’s decision had come after the top court had in October last year observed that the people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is “less patriotic“

Supreme Court’s observations

  • No need for moral policing: Observing that the society did not need “moral policing”, the court had then said that next time, “the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem.”

Exemptions to disabled to continue

The bench, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in the cinema halls when the national anthem is being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision.

Strong remarks by the SC

The apex court had on October 24 last year observed that people do not need to stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism and had asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the national anthem in the theatres.

People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment. Society needs entertainment. We cannot allow you (Centre) to shoot from our shoulders. People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism,” the bench had said

Desireability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order,” it had said.

PIL seekinga mandatory playing of national Anthem in cinema halls

The court’s strong remarks had come during the hearing on a PIL filed last year by Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking a direction that the national anthem be played in all cinema halls before the start of screening of a film

  • The apex court had in its November 30, 2016, order said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag
  • It had also barred printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in such a manner at places which may be “disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect“
  • Passing a slew of directions, the court had said that fundamental duties in the Constitution “do not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individual thought, have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible
  • It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present
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