NEW DELHI: Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that “all the 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” as a part of their “sacred obligation”. Discarding notions of “any different notion or the perception of individual rights”, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy added that the movie screen shall have the image of the national flag when the anthem is being played and that doors of the halls will remain shut during the anthem so that no disturbance is caused.
“The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism,” said the bench, giving 10 days for compliance with its direction. According to the top court, “a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem, which is the symbol of the constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.”
The court order, however, does not entail any penalty or punishment for not standing when the national anthem is played and hence, it remains to be seen how public authorities and those managing private cinema halls would ensure the direction is followed “in letter and spirit.”
The national anthem is already played before movies in some states, such as Maharashtra, but the measure is often controversial, with instances of people beaten up for not standing up for the anthem. In October, a couple assaulted a man at a cinema in Goa for not rising during the national anthem only to discover he was paralytic and on a wheelchair.
The court directed the Centre to give wide publicity to its order and send it to the chief secretaries of states and union territories.