SC takes U-turn on 'mandatory' Jana Gana Mana in movie halls

Posted October 24, 2017

The apex court asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the national anthem in the theatres ahead of the start of the film.

The judge was part of a three-judge bench comprising of himself, CJI Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar. Attorney General KK Venugopal resisted any modification as in his opinion the direction of the court was a "unifying" factor in a country with vast diversity of religion, culture, language, region, and this fostered a sense of respect for national anthem as envisaged under Article 51A of Constitution in the minds of citizens who come out of cinema theatres.

Ironically, it was the Supreme Court that had ordered previous year that the national anthem should be played across all cinema halls and that people should stand up and show respect. 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", even though it did not lay down any punishment for violation of its order.

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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. It asked the Centre to take a decision without being influenced by court's interim order.

The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, was initially inclined to modify its November 30, 2016, order replacing the word "shall" with "may". They go watch movies for undiluted entertainment and the society needs to be entertained, Justice Chandrachud also observed. "Where this moral policing would stop?", Justice Chandrachud said.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud opposed the practice of mandatory standing up for the national anthem before a movie, saying, "Just because a person does not stand up for it, does not mean that they are anti-national". These are all matters of entertainment. He expressed unhappiness over the government supporting the order which mandates standing up for the National Anthem. Why do you have to throw the burden on the court?