SC refuses to modify order on playing National Anthem in movie theatres

Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to take a call on regulating the playing and singing of the national anthem in public places including cinema halls.

On a plea for modification of the order, the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, "It is appropriate that the central government should take a call on it".

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said India was a diverse country and the national anthem needed to be played in cinema halls to bring in a feeling of uniformity.

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On December 30, the court said the differently-abled people were not required to stand up. If we make national anthem mandatory in cinema halls, next step will be that somebody can say should people be wearing shorts while national anthem is sung. "People go to watch movies for entertainment and when will this moral policing stop?"

"Should we wear our patriotism on our sleeves?".

Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who had ruled a year ago that the anthem must be played before every show at cinema theatres, was among the three judges who said today that the Centre should decide whether to modify that order without being influenced by what the court had said earlier. With the plaintiff also seeking several other directions, the main case and other tagged cases are still pending.

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Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted that Article 51 A (a) required every citizen as a duty to show respect to the national flag and the national anthem. 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 one of the lawyers said some missionary schools refused to play the National Anthem, Justice Chandrachud, who authored the majority verdict declaring privacy as a fundamental right, retorted: "I studied in a missionary school". The court said that the center should not be influenced by any of the earlier orders or current observations of the Supreme Court in this matter. Why people should assume that everyone who don't sing or stand for the national anthem is not patriotic. Why do you have to throw the burden on the court?

The Centre had supported the decision to make it mandatory for people to stand at cinemas for the National Anthem. He wanted both the laws should be in consonance to each other and disrespect should be made a punishable offence.

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