Don't need to stand up to prove patriotism: SC

The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India

Nearly eleven months after the Supreme Court made it mandatory for cinema halls to play National Anthem before screening of films, the court on Monday hinted at modifying its order to make playing of National Anthem optional to stop moral policing on the name patriotism. It said that it would instill a sense of patriotism if people stood up when the National Anthem was being played at cinemas. "It is the duty of every citizen under Article 51-A (a) to abide by the Constitution, respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem", Venugopal submitted.

The court hinted that it may replace the word "shall" with "may".

The court had made it mandatory for all those in the cinemas to stand up as a sign of respect when the anthem is played. Later, in December 2016, the court modified its order to say that handicapped persons need not stand up.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said it might modify the wording of its November 2016 order on the issue so that cinema halls "may" - instead of "shall" - play the national anthem before the start of movies.

The court's directions had come on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the anthem should be played in all the cinema halls before a film begun. The court said that it would not let the government shoot from its shoulders and hence it is the centre which must take the call. "When people came out from theatres, they would have a feeling of belonging to the nation", he said.

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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".

People go to cinemas for entertainment.

"People go to cinema halls for unadulterated entertainment". You can pass executive orders to regulate it.

Justice Chandrachud said cultural and social values are imbibed from parents and teachers and not what courts enforce through its orders. Why do you have to throw the burden on the court? Why don't you (Centre) bring regulations if you want people to mandatorily stand up during the national anthem? Justice Chandrachud observed and told Attorney General Venugopal that what the court was being asked to do could be done by the Centre. Article 51A is not enforceable.

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