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SC asks govt to take call on national anthem in cinema halls

24 October 2017

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

The court had on November 30, 2016, directed that all cinema halls in the country to play the national anthem before the feature film starts.

The court was hearing a PIL by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, which was the basis for the November 2016 order, seeking mandatory playing of the national anthem in cinema halls before every screening and for everyone in the audience to show respect by standing up. It said the Centre had to take a call uninfluenced by its 2016 order.

Last year, the SC had said that "love and respect for the motherland are reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag".

The court also banned the printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in a manner that may be disrespectful or "disgraceful to its status".

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It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud was critical of the apex court's order as well as the central government's stand of defending it. "People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment and they definitely need entertainment, not moral policing". It said that it would instill a sense of patriotism if people stood up when the National Anthem was being played at cinemas.

"Should we wear our patriotism on our sleeves?". These are all matters of entertainment. "If the government feels it, it should do it (make it mandatory) why should we do it (pass order)", Justice Chandrachud asked. Justice Chandrachud observed and told Attorney General Venugopal that what the court was being asked to do could be done by the Centre.

Senior counsel Rakesh Diwedi, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that disrespect to the national anthem is not an offence. Where do we draw a line on moral policing? Why don't you (Centre) bring regulations if you want people to mandatorily stand up during the national anthem?

"Why do you think that one who does not sing National Anthem is not patriotic?"

SC asks govt to take call on national anthem in cinema halls