National anthem not mandatory in cinema halls, Says Supreme Court

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Supreme Court on Friday says not mandatory to play the National Anthem before a screening.The apex court accepted the Centre’s submission that an inter-ministerial committee should decide if the National Anthem should be played at all.It noted the Centre’s Narendra Modi government’s submission to the Committee which has been constituted to decide on all aspects relating to the national anthem, reporter Bar, and Bench.

In November 2016, the apex court had made it mandatory for all cinema halls to play the national anthem before the screening. The November 2016 order mandated that people would have to stand up in respect for the National Anthem when it was played in cinema halls. The order said that this practice would “instill a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.”

The court said the government should take a call on the issue, instead of “shooting from the court’s shoulder”. Criticising the government’s inaction, Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the bench, asked what was stopping it from amending the Flag Code.

“Nowadays, the anthem is played during matches, tournaments and even Olympics where half of the crowd does not understand its meaning… You can amend it and say where to play the national anthem and where it can’t be done,” the judge said.

The Supreme Court also clarified later that people with physical and intellectual disabilities were exempt from standing up for the National Anthem in cinema halls.

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