Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Playing national anthem in cinema halls not mandatory: SC

Panel will frame rules on national anthem in theatres and public space Centre tells Supreme Court Chandan Khanna AFP
Melissa Porter | 09 January, 2018, 10:03

You can amend it and say where to play the national anthem and where it can't be done.

The Bench had observed that the protocol of showing respect and honour to the anthem was rooted in "our national identity, national integrity and constitutional patriotism".

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 Centre has formed an inter-ministerial committee to frame new guidelines on whether the National Anthem should be played in cinema halls.

The Supreme Court's bench, which had Chief Justice Deepak Misra in it, had asked the Centre in October previous year to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the national anthem in the theatres.

The government has also filed an affidavit in the court, requesting the apex authority to continue the 2016 interim order in the meantime. Accepting attorney general K K Venugopal's suggestion, the bench said playing of national Anthem in cinema halls will henceforth be optional. The committee will give its recommendations in six months from the date of its constitution, it said.

Later, however, while hearing a petition by a film society challenging the November 2016 order, a three-judge bench had questioned the order. Chandrachud had said then, adding that people go to movie halls for "undiluted entertainment". Opposing a recall of the 30 November 2016 order, Venugopal said it should be left open to the government to take a call on whether the anthem should be played in theatres and whether people should stand up for it. "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.