Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

National anthem not mandatory in cinema halls: SC

Centre changes stand on national anthem in cinema halls Mandatory national anthem in cinema halls: Centre asks Supreme Court to modify order, says panel formed to frame guidelines
Ben Pena | 09 January, 2018, 10:03

In a significant turnaround, the Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court to modify its earlier order making it mandatory for cinema halls to play the National Anthem before screening of a film, compelling patrons to stand up while the anthem plays.

The court will hear the matter again on Tuesday.

Observing that the society did not need "moral policing", the bench 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".

The SC accepted the suggestion of the Centre and said that playing the National Anthem would be henceforth optional.

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The final decision on the issue can be taken once a ministrial panel comes up with its guidelines on this, the centre insisted. Previously, the Supreme Court had made it mandatory for cinema halls owners to play the National Anthem before the screening of the movie.

On October 23 previous year, the case in which the SC had ruled that cine-goers must stand up for the national anthem to show their "respect for the motherland" saw a major twist with serious differences emerging between Chief Justice Dipak Misra who authored the order and the judge who shared the bench with him. It said the practice would "instill a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism". Chandrachud had said then, adding that people go to movie halls for "undiluted entertainment".

In October 2017, the SC questioned if it should be compulsory for national anthem to be played in theatres, and had asked the government to come up with a response by January 2018.

The Centre on Monday took a surprising U-turn from its stance of playing the National Anthem before the start of a movie in cinema halls across the country. "Nowadays, the anthem is played during matches, tournaments and even Olympics where half of the crowd does not understand its meaning", said Justice DY Chandrachud.

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