Indian National Anthem No Longer Mandatory in Cinemas, says Supreme Court

Henrietta Strickland
January 10, 2018

India's Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a ruling that ordered the national anthem to be played before movie screenings while audiences stand, a ruling that sparked a spate of arrests and attacks on cinema-goers who refused to rise. Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh had issued notifications prior to November 30, 2016, making it mandatory for cinema halls to play the anthem.

It also said that the exemption for the disabled from standing in cinema halls during National Anthem shall remain in force.

The Centre's decision to set up the committee came after the top court in October previous year observed the people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves" and it can not be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is "less patriotic". Representatives of the PVR and Inox multiplex chains declined to comment on the issue.

Therefore, the bench said, until the time the government takes a final call based on the committee's recommendations, the 2012 order should be followed.

"It has to submit its recommendations in form of a report within six months", a senior ministry official told NDTV.

The Centre in its affidavit said that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up as extensive consultations were needed for framing of guidelines describing the circumstances and occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung and observance of proper decorum on such occasions. "Guidelines are existing but they can not resolve the issue", the lawyer said and referred to an instance where some persons were manhandled inside a cinema hall in Mumbai after they had not stood up during playing of national anthem.

"People do not need to stand up at a cinema hall to be perceived as patriotic", the court said, adding that it "cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for national anthem, then he is less patriotic". 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.

While few theatre owners say they will discontinue playing national anthem, others say they will play national song Vande Mataram.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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