Not mandatory to play national anthem in cinema halls: SC

RSTV Bureau
File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its November 16 order which has made playing of national anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of a feature film. The bench of Chief Justice today ruled that playing of national anthem is not mandatory and the inter-ministerial committee set up by Centre shall take a final call.

On Monday, in a change of stand, the Centre had suggested the apex court to modify its earlier order.

It apprised the court that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up as framing of guidelines describing circumstances and occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung, and observance of proper decorum on such occassions requires extensive consultations.

Accepting the government affidavit on Tuesday, the top court, however, told that exemption for disabled from standing in cinema halls shall remain in force, if national anthem is played.

The said inter-ministerial committee is headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, with representatives from various other ministries, including the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Culture, Woman and Child Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

It would also have representatives of Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Minority Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, the affidavit filed by Centre said.

It said the committee has to consider a wide range of issues relating to the national anthem, and have extensive discussions with various ministries. The committee will give its recommendations in six months from the date of its constitution, it said.

During the hearing on a PIL on October 23, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had said India was a diverse country and the national anthem needed to be played in cinema halls to bring in uniformity.

The apex court had in its November 30, 2016, order said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag”.

It had also 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”.

Passing a slew of directions, the court had said that fundamental duties in the Constitution “do not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individual thought, have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible”.

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.

(With inputs from PTI)