Indian National Anthem No Longer Mandatory in Cinemas

Pauline Gross
January 11, 2018

The said submission was made by the Attorney General before the Supreme Court, as after the directions of the Supreme Court of India dated 23 October 2017, the Central Government had constituted a Committee to look into the matter as to whether playing the National Anthem before a movie should be mandatory or not. The Home Ministry's new committee is now looking at the norms that suggest the playing of the National Anthem before movie screenings in cinema halls.

Though the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday said that playing the national anthem in theatres before screening movies is not mandatory, the practice will continue in cinema halls and multiplexes in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

"Playing of the Anthem is directive, but showing respect is mandatory", Chief Justice Misra observed.

The Centre's decision to set up the committee came after the top court in October past year observed the people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves" and it can not be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is "less patriotic".

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The formation of the inter-ministerial committee was mentioned on Tuesday by an SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, that made playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies optional, modifying its earlier order. The court also asked government to set up a commission to make further recommendations, including whether the anthem is necessary at all. Offenders, it said, would face punishment.

This order came in right after Centre's affidavit which informed the top court it was in favour of modification of the November 2016 order, a complete turnabout from its previous stand on the issue.

A 12-member inter-ministerial committee set up by the Centre would come up with an extensive anthem code clearly listing out the dos and the don'ts, the court said, disposing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). During the last hearing, the judges were critical of the outcome of its 2016 order. A year later the order faced criticism from within the court, with Justice Chandrachud asking if everyone "should wear our patriotism on our sleeves".

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