Playing of national anthem optional: SCNEW DELHI, Jan 9: The Supreme Court today made the playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies optional, modifying its earlier order. The apex court modified its November 30, 2016, order by which it had made the playing of the anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of a film. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a 12- member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on the playing of national anthem in the cinemas. 

The Centre’s decision had come after the top court had in October last year observed that the people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is “less patriotic”. Observing that the society did not need “moral policing”, the court had then said that next time, “the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem.” 

The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said the committee should comprehensively look into all the aspects relating to the playing of national anthem and allowed the petitioners to make representations before the panel. The bench, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in the cinema halls when the national anthem is being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision. 

The top court accepted the government’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that the committee will submit its report within six months. – PTI

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