National Anthem not compulsory in cinema halls, says Supreme Court

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In an unexpected move on Friday, the Supreme Court reformed its order, saying that it is not compulsory to play the national anthem before a movie screening. The top court accepted the Centre’s suggestion that an inter-ministerial committee must decide if the National Anthem should be played at all. As per the Bar and Bench, the Supreme Court mentioned the submission about the Committee by the Centre, which was to be founded to resolve on all aspects related to the National Anthem and then prepare the petition.

The bench was headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who was hearing the matter. The Centre had formed an inter-ministerial committee on Friday to set new guidelines on the issue. Later, the court agreed to let the practice of playing National Anthem in cinema halls endure until the Centre came up with recommendations. The affidavit submitted by Centre said that “Upon consideration of the recommendations made by the Committee, the government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard if required”. The apex court, however, in November 2016, had made it compulsory for all cinema halls to play the National Anthem before the screening.

The 2016 order mandated that people would have to stand up in cinema halls in respect for the National Anthem when it was played. The order said that this practice would “instill a feeling within one sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”. In October 2017, the Kodungallor Film Society from Kerala had argued for the 2016 order to be withdrawn. Criticizing the last mandate, Justice DY Chandrachud asked why people should have to “wear patriotism on their sleeves”. Later, the top court also clarified that people with physical and intellectual disabilities were exempt from standing up for the National Anthem in cinema halls.

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