Overturning its own ruling from November 2016, the Supreme Court today said that it is not mandatory to play the National Anthem in cinema halls. In a controversial ruling, the SC had ordered cinema halls across the country to play the National Anthem in order to instil patriotism and nationalism among Indians. "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 of a sense committed patriotism and nationalism," the apex court had said then.
However, the SC accepted the Centre's submission that asked the court to modify its initial order. The Centre told the SC that an inter-ministerial committee should take the final call on whether the National Anthem should be played inside cinema halls or not.
The committee would be headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management) and Ministry of Home Affairs and would include representatives from across ministries including defence, culture, woman and child development, parliamentary affairs, I&B, legal affairs, school education, empowerment of persons with disability, and minority affairs. The members of the committee would look at a wide range of issues and constraints relating to the playing of National Anthem in theatres. The recommendations from the committee would be given by six months from the constitution of the committee.
However, it must be mentioned that even before the Centre's submission, the SC had indicated that it might change its November 2016 order.
Justice Chandrachud asked the Centre last year in October, "Why must we wear our patriotism on our sleeve?" He further added, "If we give this direction today, where will we stop? Tomorrow someone will come and say nobody can wear shorts to the cinema hall because the National Anthem is going to be played." The court also said, "Where do we draw the line at such moral policing?"
The November 2016 ruling had come after a man called Shyam Narayan Chouksey filed a PIL seeking directions that the National Anthem be played in cinema halls before every screening.