People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism and “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves”, the Supreme Court said on Monday, asking the Centre to consider amending the rules to regulate playing of the national anthem before a film.
The apex court also observed it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the anthem, he is “less patriotic”.
Observing that society did not need “moral policing”, a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra
said the next time, “the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas, saying this would disrespect the national
It said it would not allow the government to “shoot from its shoulder”. And, asked it to take a call either way on the issue of regulating the playing of the anthem before a film.
The bench also indicated it might modify its order of November 30, 2016, by which playing of the anthem was made mandatory in movie halls before screening of a film, and could replace the word “shall” with “may”.
“People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment. Society needs entertainment. We cannot allow you (Centre) to shoot from our shoulders. People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism,” the bench, also comprising judges A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
“Desirability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism
on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism
among people through its order,” the bench said.
The court’s remarks came on a petition filed by Kodungallur Film Society, Kerala, to recall the November order, passed on a public interest suit filed last year by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey, seeking directions that the anthem should be played in all cinema halls before a film begins.
In contrast to Monday’s remarks, a bench headed by judge Misra had ordered theatres across the country in November to “mandatorily” play the anthem before a movie and the audience to stand and show respect, to “instil committed patriotism
During Monday’s hearing on the suit, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said India was a diverse country and the national
anthem needed to be played in the cinema halls to bring uniformity.
The Supreme Court bench said it would not allow the government to “shoot from its shoulder” and asked it to take a call either way on the issue of regulating the playing of the anthem before a film. Photo: Reuters
He said it should be left open to the government to take a call, on its own discretion, on whether the anthem should be played in theatres and whether people should stand up for it.
“What is stopping you from amending the Flag Code? You can amend it and say where to play national
anthem and where it can't be done. Nowadays, the anthem is played during matches, tournaments and even Olympics, where half the crowd does not understand its meaning,” judge Chandrachud said.
The bench said, “You (Centre) take a call. The government should not show any reservation to the amendment as the court would not allow it to shoot from its shoulders.”
Chandrachud said the practice of playing the national
anthem in theatres was earlier discontinued in Mumbai because people used to move out of the halls when it was played.
“If the court is supposed to enforce respect for the National
Anthem on citizens, it should also enforce the other fundamental duties in Article 51A,” he said, adding cultural and social values are inculcated by parents and teachers, and not through court orders.
The court then asked the Centre to consider taking a call by January 9, the next date of hearing, on amending the national
flag code for regulating the playing of national
anthem in cinema halls across the country.
It said the Centre had to take a call uninfluenced by its earlier order on the subject.
The apex court had in its last November order said, “Love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national
anthem as well as to the national
It had also barred printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in a manner at places which may be “disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect”.
Passing a slew of directions, the court had then said 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".
"The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national
anthem as well as to the National
Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one a sense committed patriotism
and nationalism," it had then said.
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.