SC refuses to modify order on playing National Anthem in movie theatres

Supreme Court

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.

The hearing of the case saw Justice Chandrachud making some interesting remarks on the issue after Attorney General for India KK Venugopal argued for playing of the National Anthem in cinema halls on the ground that it fosters national unity in a vast and diverse country like India, and is supported by Article 51A of the Constitution. It said the Centre had to take a call uninfluenced by its 2016 order.

It had 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". At that time, the Supreme Court had said that the playing of National Anthem will promote patriotism and nationalism.

The court had acted on a petition filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, who wanted the anthem to be mandated at public places like movie halls.

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.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Gujarat government to apprise it within four weeks whether any departmental action was initiated or taken against the police officers whose conviction in the case of gang-rape of Bilkis Bano on March 3, 2002 during the Gujarat riots was upheld. Later, in December 2016, the court modified its order to say that handicapped persons need not stand up.

Justice Chandrachud said cultural and social values are imbibed from parents and teachers and not what courts enforce through its orders.

"Why do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves?" These are all matters of entertainment.

People go to cinema for undiluted entertainment. 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. Where do we draw a line? Can you say this is disrespect to the national anthem?

"Why do you think that one who does not sing National Anthem is not patriotic?" Why should the court be burdened to decide the issue? Why don't you (Centre) bring regulations if you want people to mandatorily stand up during the national anthem?

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