National Anthem To Be Stopped Playing Inside The Cinema Halls?

Standing for National Anthem in movie theatres not a measure of patriotism Supreme Court

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. Worse than that is, people entering the cinema hall after the anthem was played just to avoid standing up. The Supreme Court had said it would "instill committed patriotism and nationalism" and had also 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 was freakish in the sense that the audience had to be "disciplined" for the sake of national anthem, raising questions, among others, about patriotism and whether a theatre was the right place for showing our collective respect to the nation. The 2016 order assumed an unverified and unverifiable patriotism deficit. Venugopal submitted that playing the National Anthem in cinema halls and standing up as a mark of respect for it fosters a sense of unity in a country diverse in caste, religion and regions. People go to theatres for "undiluted entertainment" and no such order can be thrust upon them, it said.

The bench also believed that not singing the national anthem in the theatres can not be the hallmark of a citizen's patriotism and one shouldn't be judged on this ground which reflects moral policing. This is a bit of a legal conundrum as it was a Supreme Court order that mandated anthem playing. Justice Chandrachud told AG Venugopal that the court can not enforce the fundamental duties. As the government, you have the power.

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Justice Chandrachud disagreed. He said Article 51A is very broad and also makes it the fundamental duty of citizens to "develop scientific temper, humanism, spirit of inquiry", etc. By passing the buck to the government, the SC in a way reminded one of its 2013 order on Section 377, in which case too it said that the government must legislate. "In our opinion, it is appropriate that Centre takes a call in this mater, and if necessary, as advised, it may think of issuing a notification or circular or Rules by using its discretion without being influenced by our November 30 order". "Why should you assume that everyone who doesn't stand up for the national anthem is not patriotic?" Citizens can not be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts can not inculcate patriotism among people through its order.

The next hearing will be conducted on 9th January.

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The court must, indeed, modify its 2016 order. We do not know what the government wants.

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