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India's Supreme Court says playing of national anthem not mandatory in movie halls anymore

LiveMint.com | By Priyanka Mittal - Jan 09 2018

Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, clarified that if a cinema hall chose to play the national anthem, people would have to stand up to show respect.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its earlier order and removed the compulsion it had placed on playing of the national anthem in movie halls and theatres.

While disposing the petition, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, clarified that if a cinema hall chose to play the national anthem, people would have to stand up to show respect.

The order came after the government informed the court about its decision to constitute an inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines for occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung in movie halls and theatres.

Until the committee submits its recommendations (for which it sought six months), it was urged that the apex court may consider restoration of the position as it stood before the order was passed on 30 November 2016, making playing of the national anthem mandatory in cinema halls.

The committee will be headed by the additional secretary (border management), ministry of home affairs, with representatives of various ministries, including the defence ministry, ministry of external affairs, ministry of culture, ministry of child and women development and the ministry of parliamentary affairs.

In October, the apex court put the onus on the Centre for amending the laws to regulate playing of national anthem in cinema halls. In doing so, it declined to modify its November order under which it had issued a slew of directions on when and how the national anthem must be played.

The court on 30 November 2016 had directed all movie halls and theatres to play the national anthem before the start of a play, movie or any other programme and said that audiences must stand up and pay respect, in a bid to instil a sense of patriotism and nationalism.

The court was hearing a PIL by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, which was the basis for the November 2016 order, seeking mandatory playing of the national anthem in cinema halls before every screening and for everyone in the audience to show respect by standing up.

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