Playing the National Anthem henceforth not mandatory in cinema halls: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stated that henceforth, playing the national anthem before a film is screened will no longer be mandatory for cinema halls. On Monday, the government filed an affidavit asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its November 2016 order which made it mandatory for cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem before screening a film. It also stated that an inter-ministerial committee was being set up to look into modifications in the existing rules- Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, if required.

The apex court, permitting the request, iterated that citizens ought to show respect to the national anthem and that the committee must look into all aspects. The government also let petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey take up his prayers with the committee. The top court added that the earlier order which granted disabled persons an exemption from standing during the anthem would still stand valid.

“We are happy. Part of our demands has been met. We will give our suggestions to the panel,” Abinav Shrivastav, lawyer for the petitioner said.

According to the court’s initial order in November 2016, the audience must “stand up in respect” till the anthem is finished playing. That, in its opinion, would “instill a feeling within one, a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism,” the bench had ordered; led by Justice Dipak Misra, who later became the Chief Justice of India.

Based on the affidavit, the committee will be headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, with representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability.