The Supreme Court has ruled that playing national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls is optional and not mandatory. The ruling modifies apex court’s earlier November 2016 order that made the playing of national anthem in cinemas mandatory.
The apex court has accepted Union Government’s affidavit that said 12-member inter-ministerial committee has been set up to suggest changes in Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. It also asked committee to take a comprehensive decision on what changes are required in the law and itss executive orders related to national anthem. It held that the inter-ministerial committee will now take a final call on the matter.
Inter-Ministerial Committee on National Anthem in Cinema Halls
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had constituted inter-ministerial committee to frame guidelines on playing national anthem in cinemas and other public places. It is headed by BR Sharma, Additional Secretary (Border Management) under Union Ministry of Home Affairs and has representatives from various ministries.
The committee is mandated to frame guidelines describing circumstances and occasion on which national anthem is to be played or sung. It will recommend observance of proper decorum when national anthem is played or sung. It will submit its report within six months.
In November 2016, SC had ordered all cinemas to play the National Anthem before screening a film for the love of the motherland. The MHA’s decision to constitute the committee came after another bench of SC in October 2017 had observed that people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves. It stated that apex court cannot assume that a person is “less patriotic” if he or she does not stand up for the national anthem.