Don’t need to stand up for anthem in cinema halls to prove patriotism: SC

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New Delhi: People do not need to stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism, the Supreme Court said on Monday and asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the national anthem in the theatres.The top court also observed that it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for national anthem, then he is “less patriotic”.

 Observing that the society did not need “moral policing”, a bench of 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 anthem.”It said it will 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 the anthem.

The bench also indicated that it may modify its order of December 1, 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory in the movie halls before the screening of a film, and it may 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 Justices 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 strong remarks came during the hearing on a PIL filed last year by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the national anthem should be played in all the cinema halls before a film begins.

In contrast to these remarks, a bench headed by Justice Misra had ordered the theatres across the country on December 1 last year to “mandatorily” play the national anthem before a movie and the audience must stand and show respect, in a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”.

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