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National anthem is not compulsory in cinema halls

Govt's U-Turn on National Anthem in Theatres

The order came after a plea by the Central government that an inter-ministerial committee was set up to decide guidelines and circumstances to play the national anthem.

A Supreme Court bench on Tuesday modified its own ruling, saying that it was no more mandatory to play the National Anthem during a movie screening.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief said the Supreme Court had taken good decision as there was no need to play national anthem in theatres to prove patriotism.

Thank God, our Supreme Court judges at least had the good sense to see that their order had gone too far (not least given the context in which it was issued).

Then, during the hearing on a PIL on October 23 a year ago, Justice DY Chandrachud, a member of the bench along with CJI Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khnawilkar, had questioned the logic behind the order, wondering, "Why do people have to wear their patriotism on their sleeve?"

The order created major controversy as people who did not sing the anthem were roughed up by so-called nationalists. The recommendations from the committee would be given by six months from the constitution of the committee.

In October, the apex court put the onus on the Centre for amending the laws to regulate playing of national anthem in cinema halls.

Modifying its 2016 order, the Supreme Court in India has said that playing the national anthem in movie theatres is no longer compulsory. The court said a person who stands up is showing respect to India and the national anthem.

The Centre's stand when the 2016 order came out was clearly contrary to its present one. "Let it not be trivialised all the time", he told the court after observing that its earlier order, aimed to promote respect for anthem, had only led to the rise of "popcorn nationalism".

The PIL was filed by Bhopal-based Shyam Narayan Chouksey, seeking directions to the government to take appropriate steps to specify what would constitute disrespect and abuse of the National Anthem.