National Anthem Current Affairs - 2019

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National anthem not mandatory in cinema halls: SC

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.

SC Ruling

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.

No need to stand if National Anthem is part of film: SC

The Supreme Court has clarified that there is no need to stand inside a cinema hall when the national anthem is featured as a part of a film, documentary or a newsreel.

This is second clarification issued by SC on its November 2016 order, directing all persons to stand up when the national anthem is sung or played in a cinema theatre.

Key Facts
  • The apex court’s clarification came after several applications were filed on the question, including from the Kodungallur Film Society and the Conference for Human Rights.
  • Earlier in December 2016, SC had issued first modification to its order to exempt physically challenged or handicapped persons from standing up when national anthem is played before film screenings.

In November 2016, Supreme Court had issued an order making mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before film screenings. It also had directed all those present there to stand up to show respect. It also had ordered cinema halls to display the national flag on the screen when the anthem was played. The apex court had mentioned that this practice will instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism. The order was issued on a writ petition filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey in October 2016.