SC Modifies Order, Now National Anthem not Mandatory in Cinemas

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The order sparked a furore as it directed cinemagoers to "stand up in respect" till the end of the anthem, in a bid to "instil patriotism and nationalism".

The topic of the national anthem in cinema has come to an end.

It is no longer mandatory for cinemas to play the national anthem before every film show after the Supreme Court on Tuesday modified an earlier order and removed the compulsion.

On November 30, 2016, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy had passed an interim order that said, "All cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem".

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"Playing of the Anthem is directive, but showing respect is mandatory", Chief Justice Misra observed.

The Centre's decision had come after the top court in October a year ago observed that the people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves" and it can not be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is "less patriotic".

The court has also ordered that a government commission be established to recommend further decisions on whether the anthem should be played in theatres.

"It is clear as crystal that no one can be intentionally prevented from singing or cause disturbance in assembly singing the anthem", the court said, emphasising the Prevention of Insult of National Honour Act. This statement from the Supreme Court of India has come has come as a whiff of fresh air for innumerable movie buffs who visit the theatre to get some relaxing moments to spend with their family, friends and loved ones. The Centre said an inter-ministerial committee was being asked to look into the matter and the government would take a call once the committee submitted its recommendations in six months. "There is no need to discontinue playing the national anthem unless the state government tells us not do so". "The Act only says what constitutes disrespect to the national flag and Constitution". It led to a debate and Kerala's Kodungallur Film Society approached the Supreme Court, seeking recall of the order.

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