In a significant change of stance, SC on Monday indicated that it may modify its order of December 1, 2016, by which the playing of the anthem was made mandatory for cinema halls before the screening of a movie, and it may replace the word “shall” with “may”. The apex court had last year made it mandatory to play the national anthem before a movie.
“Just because someone doesn’t sing the national anthem in cinema halls, they do not become less patriotic,” Justice Chandrachud said. “One doesn’t have to wear patriotism up his sleeves all the time. People are afraid of being called anti-national if they oppose mandatory singing of national anthem,” the bench remarked, according to WION.
The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to consider amending the national flag code for regulating the playing of national anthem in cinema halls across the country. A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said the Centre has to take a call uninfluenced by its earlier order on the playing of national anthem in the theatres.
During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said India was a diverse country and the national anthem needs to be played in the cinema halls to bring in uniformity.
The court’s directions last year had come on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the national anthem should be played in all the cinema halls before a film begins. It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.