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

The Supreme Court of India

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who was part of the three-judge bench, openly expressed displeasure over the interim order passed a year ago and said that one does not have to wear patriotism on sleeves all the time and there could not be any moral policing. Later, in December 2016, the court modified its order to say that handicapped persons need not stand up.

The bench responded: "Not singing the national anthem in movie halls is not a sign of being anti-national".

Justifying its U-turn on the issue, the Bench said, "People go to movie halls for undiluted entertainment".

According to tweets by Krishnadas Rajagopal of The Hindu, Justice Chandrachud questioned where the moral policing would stop, as the government may soon ask people not to wear T-shirts and shorts because it may be disrespectful to the anthem too.

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In a major departure from its order mandating cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening of any movie, the Supreme Court on Monday said such a direction, if at all, has to come from the Government.

The bench on Monday told the Centre not to be influenced by the 2016 order on the playing of national anthem in the theatres while taking a fresh call.

During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud was critical of the apex court's order as well as the central government's stand of defending it. The court said that it was fundamental duty of every citizen to respect National Anthem and National Flag and it was desirable that anthem was played in public events but judiciary should not step in to make it mandatory in cinema halls. Where do we draw a line? Why don't you (Centre) bring regulations if you want people to mandatorily stand up during the national anthem? Senior counsel Chandra Uday Singh, appearing for a film society seeking recall of the November 30 order, asked then why not play the national anthem on railway platforms as well.

The court had barred printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in such a manner at places which may be "disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect". Venugopal submitted that playing the National Anthem in cinema halls and standing up as a mark of respect for it fosters a sense of unity in a country diverse in caste, religion and regions.

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