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

SC agrees to hear review petition on standing during 'Jana Gana Mana' in cinema halls

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider a plea to modify its order that made the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls mandatory, even as the Centre opposed the move.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the Centre has to take a call uninfluenced by its earlier order on the playing of national anthem in the theatres.

Supreme Court was declared that patriotism can not be forced through court orders and that whether or not a person stand for the Anthem can not be used as a measure of patriotism. "Values are inculcated in a broad social and political culture and patriotism can not be inculcated among people by Supreme Court order making it mandatory for playing National Anthem in cinema halls", he said. "People go to watch movies for entertainment and when will this moral policing stop?"

In a major departure from its order mandating cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening of any movie, the Supreme Court on Monday said such a direction, if at all, has to come from the Government. "We do not have to sing the national anthem to be patriatotic", the court observed. "By reasons of vast diversity based on religion, caste and region, it becomes necessary to have a unifying force which can be brought about by playing the national anthem in theatres". Attorney General K K Venugopal represented the Centre in court. It asked the Centre to take a decision without being influenced by court's interim order. Justice Chandrachud was particularly critical of earlier order and said that moral policing on the name of patriotism should not be allowed. "As courts, why should we assume that if someone says I do not want to sing the anthem or stand up, I am not patriotic, or much worse that I am targeted for being an anti-national". Where do we draw a line?

"What if somebody objects to people wearing shorts in cinema hall?" Senior counsel Chandra Uday Singh, appearing for a film society seeking recall of the November 30 order, asked then why not play the national anthem on railway platforms as well. At that time, the Supreme Court had said that the playing of National Anthem will promote patriotism and nationalism. He wanted both the laws should be in consonance to each other and disrespect should be made a punishable offence.

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