Order on anthem at cinemas may change

Order on anthem at cinemas may change
The Supreme Court on Monday hinted at modifying its order on playing of the national anthem across the cinema halls in the country by asking the government why should it not bring circular in this regard if it felt necesssary.

“Why should we assume that if people do not sing the national anthem, they are less patriatotic? We do not have to sing the national anthem to be patriatotic,” the court observed.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the court would replace “shall” with “may” in its November 30, 2016 order by taking away complusory part of playing the national anthem before the movie began in theatres.

The court had on November 30, 2016, directed that all cinema halls in the country to play the national anthem before the feature film starts. The order made it mandatory for all present in the hall “to stand up to show respect to the national anthem” as part of their “sacred obligation”.

On December 30, the court said the differently-abled people were not required to stand up.

On a plea for modification of the order, the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, “It is appropriate that the central government should take a call on it”.

The court put the matter arising out of a PIL by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, a retired engineer from Bhopal, for further consideration on January 9.

During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud was critical of the apex court's order as well as the central government's stand of defending it.

Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted that Article 51 A (a) required every citizen as a duty to show respect to the national flag and the national anthem. “Because of vast diversity-- based on religion, race, caste, creed and region – it becomes necessary to have direction from the court. This could be brought about by playing the national anthem and people will believe that we are all Indians,” he said.

The court, however, responded by saying, “nobody can challenge the idea of unifying the nation”.

“Why do people have to wear their patritoism up on their sleeves? The cinema halls are places of entertainment. People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment. If the government feels it, it should do it (make it mandatory) why should we do it (pass order),” Justice Chandrachud asked.

“Should the court enforce all directions given under Article 51 (A) (fundamental duties) of the Constitution,” Justice Chandrachud further asked.

Venugopal said, “the court has ample power under Article 142 of the Constitution to issue directions”.

“What if somebody objects to people wearing shorts in cinema hall? Where do we stop this moral policing...You are opening vast field for the court to enforce a number of fundamental duties. Article 51A is not enforceable. It is duty only. Values can be inculcated in broad political spectrum. It is not required for the court to do it.”
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