Law says you cannot bully someone over National Anthem

A city viral video showed some moviegoers being bullied by a group of people for not standing up for the anthem

A screengrab from the video that shows a crowd of people heckling a group at a theatre for not standing for the National Anthem.

Recently, a video of some Bengalureans being bullied by a group of people for not standing up for the National Anthem in a city movie hall went viral.

The video showed a crowd including Kannada actors BV Aishwarya and Arun Gowda heckling the group, and referring to them as “Pakistani terrorists”.

As the debate continues, Metrolife asked Guru Prasanna, advocate, Karnataka High Court, about the code of conduct when the national anthem is playing.

Guru says that there is an executive order on the National Anthem, which says ‘Citizens and all persons should stand for the National Anthem’. This refers to everybody who is present where the anthem is playing, without exemption.

“Disabled people are excused. Exemptions are also made in case of emergencies (which is case to case),” he adds. Since the order says “persons”, foreigners are not exempted from it.

He further explains that while playing the anthem was made mandatory by the Supreme Court in cinema halls in 2016, it was made optional later, in 2018. “If the cinema hall is playing the National Anthem, there should be no questions about standing up. Standing up for the National Anthem is just like how one does not drop the National Flag on the ground. It is a way of showing respect,” says Guru. 

The respect for the anthem is governed by a statute, but citizens cannot be prosecuted for not standing for the national anthem, he clarifies.

“One cannot file a formal complaint against another for not standing for the anthem,” he says.

Article 51 (A) of The Constitution of India says, “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.” 

The Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act talks about “Prevention of singing of Indian National Anthem”, but does not specify, how
one should express their respect for the anthem, he adds.

“There is no set process where prosecution is allowed for this, but it is expected of all citizens to respect the National Anthem,” he says. 

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