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

24 October 2017, 12:47 | Lucy Hill

The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India

"Why should we assume that if people do not sing the national anthem, they are less patriatotic?"

The court, on November 30, 2016, had made it mandatory for movie halls to play the National Anthem before the screening of movies.

The Supreme Court on Monday put the onus on the Centre for amending the laws for regulating the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls. Justice Chandrachud was particularly critical of earlier order and said that moral policing on the name of patriotism should not be allowed. On December 1, 2016, the SC had ordered that to instill "committed patriotism and nationalism all the cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem" as a part of their "sacred obligation".

The Bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, failed to appreciate Centre's submission.

He added that there was no need for people to wear their patriotism on their sleeve and that there could be no end to moral policing on this issue. It granted Centre time till January 9 to "take a call one way or other" on framing of rules on playing on national anthem in theatres and other public events.

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At this juncture, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who headed the bench, which also included Justice A.M. Kanwilkar, hinted that the court itself would modify the order. The bench was hearing an application from a Kerala-based film society seeking to recall the November 30, 2016, order on the ground that it amounted to judicial legislation.

"These are matters of entertainment".

The court had made it mandatory for all those in the cinemas to stand up as a sign of respect when the anthem is played. People are afraid of being called anti-national if they oppose mandatory order. People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment.

"You don't have to stand up at a cinema hall to be perceived as patriotic", Justice Chandrachud said. Can you say this is disrespect to the national anthem? Justice Chandrachud said: "People wear shorts and go to cinema".

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