Saturday, 18 November, 2017

SC takes U-turn on 'mandatory' Jana Gana Mana in movie halls

SC asks Centre to decide whether standing for the national anthem in movie halls is mandatory Representative image | HT
Tracy Craig | 24 October, 2017, 00:48

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to consider amending the national flag code for regulating the playing of national anthem in cinema halls across the country.

The Bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, failed to appreciate Centre's submission. Attorney General KK Venugopal resisted any modification as in his opinion the direction of the court was a "unifying" factor in a country with vast diversity of religion, culture, language, region, and this fostered a sense of respect for national anthem as envisaged under Article 51A of Constitution in the minds of citizens who come out of cinema theatres. "As courts, why should we assume that if someone says I do not want to sing the anthem or stand up, I am not patriotic, or much worse that I am targeted for being an anti-national".

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".

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.

In a brief order, the bench said, "We think that it would be appropriate if the Central government took a call in this matter by issuing necessary notifications, rules or circulars".

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Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that one need not stand up to prove his or her patriotism. Not standing during the national anthem in movie halls was not a sign of being anti-national. 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 do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves?"

"These are matters of entertainment". Justice Chandrachud observed and told Attorney General Venugopal that what the court was being asked to do could be done by the Centre. Where do we draw a line?

People go to cinema for undiluted entertainment. Why should the court be burdened to decide the issue? Justice Chandrachud said: "People wear shorts and go to cinema".

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