Indian National Anthem No Longer Mandatory in Cinemas

Anurag Kashyap welcomes SC order on national anthem

However, the Supreme Court on Tuesday revoked its short-term order on mandatory playing of national anthem before movie screenings in cinema halls after multiple instances of vigilante patriotism.

The Maharashtra government had made playing the national anthem in cinema halls before every movie mandatory in 2003.

The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said it won't be mandatory for cinema halls to play the Anthem before the start of a movie.

Observing that society did not need "moral policing", the court had then said that in future, "the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem". The court clarified that the exception granted to the disabled persons "shall remain in force on all occasions".


The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act states: "Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both". The Centre asked the Supreme Court to put its 30 November 2016 order on hold. Offenders, it said, would face punishment. In such an eventuality, the Centre has asked the top court to reconsider restoring the position to where it stood before the apex court passed its order.

A 12-member inter-ministerial committee set up by the Centre would come up with an extensive anthem code clearly listing out the dos and the don'ts, the court said, disposing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). "Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung", the Bench quoted Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy's words in the verdict.

But at the same time the law made it clear that the anthem "has not only to be respected but it's a respect as a salutation to the motherland", it said. During the last hearing, the judges were critical of the outcome of its 2016 order.

Aware of the widespread criticism of the order, mainly because of the activities of vigilante groups in enforcing it, the three-judge bench readily accepted the AG's request on Tuesday, which in in sync with the loud hints the SC had dropped during a hearing on October 23 a year ago on a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey.

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